HMS Audacious, an Astute-class nuclear submarine, has been loading Tomahawk cruise missiles in Gibraltar.

The images were published by @wja789 on Twitter and shared by @NavyLookout, I’d recommend you follow both of them for more.

HMS Audacious is an Astute-class nuclear-powered submarine. The vessel is the fourth submarine in the class and was launched in April 2017. The submarine can be employed in a variety of important roles. These include covert intelligence gathering and strategic strike using the fearsome Tomahawk Land Attack Missile. The Tomahawk missile, also known as TLAM, allows Royal Navy submarines of the Astute and Trafalgar class to strike at targets on land accurately at a range of around 1,000 miles.

The Tomahawk missile is a highly accurate, GPS-enabled weapon that the US and allied militaries have used more than 2,000 times in combat, and flight-tested 500 times say the manufacturer. In 2017, U.S. Navy surface vessels launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at targets on a Syrian airbase. It’s important to remember that Tomahawk is a cruise missile, so rather than taking on a ballistic trajectory, it stays close to the ground, steering around terrain features, using a jet engine instead of a rocket engine to fly.

The missile has been in use with the Royal Navy since the late 1990s and has been used in the Kosovo conflict and in the campaigns against the Taliban, Saddam Hussein and Gaddafi. The UK last bought 65 Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles in July 2014.

According to Raytheon, these are the general specifications:

Primary Function: Long-range subsonic cruise missile for striking high value or heavily defended land targets.
Contractor: Raytheon Missile Systems Company, Tucson, AZ.
Date Deployed: Block II TLAM-A IOC – 1984
Block III – IOC 1994
Block IV – IOC 2004.
Propulsion: Block II/III TLAM-A, C & D – Williams International F107 cruise turbo-fan engine; ARC/CSD solid-fuel booster
Length: 20.3 feet; with booster: 20 feet 6 inches (6.25 meters).
Diameter: 21 inches
Wingspan: 8 feet 9 inches (2.67 meters).
Weight: 3,330 pounds with rocket motor.
Speed: Subsonic – about 550 mph (880 km/h).
Range: Block III TLAM-C – 900 nautical miles (1000 statute miles, 1600 km)
Block III TLAM-D – 700 nautical miles (800 statute miles, 1250 km
Block IV TLAM-E – 900 nautical miles (1000 statute miles, 1600 km)
Guidance System: Block II TLAM-A – INS, TERCOM
Block III TLAM-C, D
Block IV TLAM-E – INS, TERCOM, DSMAC, and GPS.
Warhead: Block II TLAM-N – W80 nuclear warhead.
Block III TLAM-C and Block IV TLAM-E – 1,000 pound class unitary warhead.
Block III TLAM-D – conventional submunitions dispenser with combined effect bomblets.

 

George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. He also works for the NHS. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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expat
expat
1 month ago

One feature of the Tomahawk is although later blocks have a GPS guidance its other guidance systems can’t be spoofed. I do wonder how effective something like Switchblade will be in GPS denied environments.

Ian M
Ian M
1 month ago
Reply to  expat

The Switchblade 600 has a SAASM GPS fit so is hardened against spoofing, I don’t think SB300 has this.

expat
expat
1 month ago
Reply to  Ian M

The problem is spoofing is not the issue you can deny access to GPS signals by blocking the spectrum it operates within. GPS by nature of it design with high geostationary satellites has a relatively weak signal. From a military perspective spoofing would be preferred as the enemy would not hit its target, possibly hit friendlies/civilians and waste munitions whilst doing it. SB final targeting is done optically so hitting friendlies/civilians is less of an issue. GPS denial would be far more obvious before launch with no GPS signal available. What I don’t know is if SB needs GPS to… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by expat
Ian M
Ian M
1 month ago
Reply to  expat

Hi Expat, yup, mostly agree with your summation. Military positioning systems are usually multi band so an Opfor would have to try and block a huge spectrum. Just to clarify, US GPS satellites are geosynchronous not geostationary. They orbit good old Earth at a smidge under twice a day.

cheers

expat
expat
1 month ago
Reply to  Ian M

Thanks Ian, I wasn’t ware of the last point, I’m a bit behind the times 🙂

Mick
Mick
1 month ago
Reply to  expat

GPS are neither geosycnchronous or geostationary (both of which orbit at the same rate as the Earth, once every 24 hours. They are at MEO (medium Earth orbit), around at around 20000 km.

Daveyb
Daveyb
1 month ago
Reply to  expat

Yep, less than 0.5W is received if you are standing at sea level. Russia has already demonstrated that it can spoof GPS as well as jam it. I’m trying to remember the exercise, but I believe it was in one of the Baltic states a year or two ago. Where Russia spoofed the GPS, so that it was a couple of miles out from the actual position. There were some images on Twitter that showed a suspected electronic warfare truck near the border.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago

I’m curious why they load them at Gibraltar when the complex weapons site of DM is at a site in Scotland, the location of their home port.

This is done so it’s seen I suspect.

Paul42
Paul42
1 month ago

Yes, I would say it is. Its unusual and clearly being done out in the open for all to see, as opposed to quietly tied up at an ammunitioning jetty at Guz or wherever. Likewise the presence of the US boat- loaded with TLAMs……

JohninMK
JohninMK
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul42

Nothing in the Mailonline yet.

AlbertStarburst
AlbertStarburst
1 month ago

Yes a message methinks.

Matt
Matt
1 month ago

Hi Danielle, completely agree with you. This is a show of force no doubt about it. The service is usually like this we “could” be operating here and we “might” be fully armed. Keeps everybody guessing right? But this in Gibraltar in full view is very much a political statement that both the US and UK have submarines operating in the area with TLAM onboard, as well as a special ops delivery vehicle. Its no longer “could be there” or “might be operating”, it’s now fact. A bold move.
Cheers [email protected]

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
1 month ago

…and a bit of Anglo-US allianceship can be publicised.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago

I would agree: this was meant to be seen by all photographed and reported. The fact that both subs were mored together and being loaded together was a lockstep signal: pure and simple.

Who knows which versions of TLAM were actually being loaded?

Who knows if there isn’t a quiet common stockpile of TLAM as there are of the P8 weapons systems?

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
1 month ago

And hopefully it’s a “full load” of TLAMs, with Spearfish, whatever that is..and I don’t need to know the exact details… Lol 😁

Lusty
Lusty
1 month ago

I remember them doing similar a few years back when Syria/IS still occupied the headlines. There’s certainly an aspect of ‘being seen’ involved.

Steve M
Steve M
1 month ago

We need to be able to re-arm globally, long way back to Scotland if your in IO/Pacific just for 20? missiles, ideally if we want to be global we need 2 things more subs and decent support tender that can replenish East of Suez (base it either in AUS or BIOT

James Fennell
James Fennell
1 month ago

Agreed. Its a subtle message after the not so subtle Soviet ICBM test.

Deep32
Deep32
1 month ago

I imagine that there is an element of ‘being seen’ as you say, but could also simply be to recertify the dockyard to be able to load munitions from the jetty
? In Guzz, the SMs weapons are loaded / off loaded onto a munitions barge, so don’t go near the jetties.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Deep32

Yes that’s right, taken by barge from the DM site. RAFT has also been built now to improve things.

Airborne
Airborne
1 month ago

Agreed mate.

Exroyal.
Exroyal.
1 month ago

A bit like the four times I have picked up RQ4 Global Reapers over Poland in plain view on ADSB.

Donaldson
Donaldson
1 month ago

I didn’t think Gibraltar held stocks of Torpedoes and Tomahawks, Do you know where they are kept stored or am I missing something?

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Donaldson

I do know, yes. I’m not aware of Gibraltar having such stocks either. It’s not an official DM site though does/did have an armaments depot, I’d guess inside it.

Armchair Admiral
Armchair Admiral
1 month ago

It’s an oddly un-warlike picture..a big yellow crane and men wearing Bob the builder hats!
AA

Phil Bodycote
Phil Bodycote
1 month ago

I’m fairly sure the Russians know where Gibraltar is. It would be a bit of overkill if they tried to run a camouflage and concealment exercise on a very static naval facility.

Lusty
Lusty
1 month ago
Reply to  Phil Bodycote

Absolute nonsense. Russia still uses maps that date to the time of Pangea. They’ll probably confuse Gibraltar with St Michael’s Mount or something.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Phil Bodycote

Yes. Though we do have a static naval facility where camouflage and concealment take place, Coulport.

Which was why I posted above at the obvious PR side of this TLAM reloading.

Jon
Jon
1 month ago

The UK last bought 65 Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles in July 2014.

Didn’t we read that the recently authorised, although not yet signed, £300m TLAM support contract included equipment? Wasn’t that speculated to include new missiles?

Does anyone know what the current state of play is on that?

FX102A
FX102A
1 month ago
Reply to  Jon

The contract is supposedly close to being awarded and whilst it is unlikely to include new missiles, it will see the RN stockpile upgraded to Block V standard. Also some rumours said we could even see Maritime Strike Tomahawk (Block Va) in the future, would would go well on the T26s, although would probably require new missiles to keep the subs stockpiled.

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
1 month ago
Reply to  FX102A

I thought it would have be useful with the upgrades on the T45s going on if they all had even 1 x MK41 then they could have TLAMs plys CAMM in 1 x ExLS or go 2 x MK41s plus CAMM side silos. And then later on they could take the FC/ASW. They’d be even more potent for the rest of their service life.

David
David
1 month ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

Absolutely agree – a missed opportunity on the T45s for sure!

James Fennell
James Fennell
1 month ago
Reply to  Jon

I think the annoucement will come in September. The FMS process is the first step in a procurement.

Craig
Craig
1 month ago
Reply to  James Fennell

Unlikely now as 24 Sea Ceptor cells planned to be fitted in space where M41s would’ve gone.

Tommo
Tommo
1 month ago

Let the world know , rather than loading up in secret if the World knows then Adolf Putin knows

Tams
Tams
1 month ago
Reply to  Tommo

Perhaps, but that would require Putler to look up from his tantrums.

Tommo
Tommo
1 month ago
Reply to  Tams

And putting down a very tear soaked hankie as well Tams

Tommo
Tommo
1 month ago

Sssssh your take the wind out of Boris’s sail with that comment Expat

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
1 month ago

Good point. I thought they were called the ‘Silent Service’, ie that we did not comment on submarine activity.
Does anyone do OPSEC these days?

expat
expat
1 month ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

The idea is plausible deniability, Russia think Ukraine has Tomahawks when one hits their forces Ukraine will say they fired it. But of course it could have come from elsewhere 🙂

Tommo
Tommo
1 month ago
Reply to  expat

At this current time with Mad dog Putin flexing his Countries new top of the range (apparently) Satan ) ICBM one wonders if Tommahawk can take out a moving Limo if only or an outside Karsie even better

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
1 month ago

At the same time as this ‘good news’, I hear that we only have 5 SSNs in the active fleet.

Tommo
Tommo
1 month ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Alas another T class went this week she’s tirelessly done her duty without fanfare as in line with the silent service Graham

Esteban
Esteban
1 month ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Actually Triumph has been and still is in refit, and Talent has just been retired but hasnt been to sea in 15 months. so basically there has only been 4. But at least the 4 seem to be getting on with the job.

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
1 month ago
Reply to  Esteban

With a bit of “best of British luck” these subs or a variant of will get the tick from the RAN and who knows maybe the RN might get an extra boat or two in any defence uptake.

Steve
Steve
1 month ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

With next year or two being the election and the war going on, making defense more interesting to the general public, we might actually see a boost next year, as an election thing. Don’t think it will happen this year, as no announcement of a review etc, which I’m sure Boris would love to announce right now to distract what is going on. Plus a review doesn’t involve spending anything and pushes the can down the road.

Nicholas
Nicholas
1 month ago

These subs are superb, I’d love to have a nose around one, as long as I could get off before it submerged,

Heidfirst
Heidfirst
1 month ago
Reply to  Nicholas

I imagine that the USN Captain & XO got the tour. 🙂

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
1 month ago
Reply to  Heidfirst

The USS Georgia is one of the 4 Ohio SSGN conversions. I imagine the tour was enjoyable on both boats. Could be nearly 200 tomahawks between them.
Nuclear subs really are in a class of there own. Go anywhere and pop up when least expected. Worth every penny. The U.K. could do with some more. Hopefully from going so low on the numbers there value will be known to the folks in charge and more ordered in the future

Last edited 1 month ago by Monkey spanker
Steven Alfred Rake
Steven Alfred Rake
1 month ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

They are the dogs b—cks but with only 4 boats and umpteen commitments like protecting our SSBN’s, Carriers deployments Amphibious deployments not to mention keeping an eye on the Russian sub fleet deployments, Oh I forgot Land attack as well as none of our surface fleet can do this, I tend to thing that the poor crews are not going to get much time off this year.
It is a sad joke that only brings a smile to Putin’s face!!!

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
1 month ago

And yet we complete these commitments every single time. Which is a testament to the professionalism of our silence service, and the engineering and support footprint that supports it. Nothing is a joke, and the Russians could only dream of operate a boat as capable as Astute class. 🇬🇧

Steven Alfred Rake
Steven Alfred Rake
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

I would agree with your comments but we still need crews to volunteer to go to sea and those crews have families and those families like to see those family members once and a while. What makes the RN one of the most effective and professional navy’s of the world is the crews and their professionalism. That commitment is a 2 sided coin so if the RN want people to volunteer to be a sub-mariner or indeed to serve in the surface fleet they need more boats to spread the load.

Esteban
Esteban
1 month ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

USS Georgia by herself carries more cruise missiles than the UK owns… And they are of the latest upgrades. But it’s a cool publicity stunt to Make it look like nato is all in on photo opportunities are nice. Day after day year after year deterrence is what is always needed.

Watcherzero
Watcherzero
1 month ago

Air delivered, no layover.

Airborne
Airborne
1 month ago

Observable for the target audience of Putins Nazis, trolls and hangers on. And a sign that even within the NATO alliance, the UK and the US are singing off the same song sheet. “Watch out watch out Pooptin, there may be an Astute about”!

WSM
WSM
1 month ago

Unusual behaviour (although given the global circumstances perhaps not ?!)
Still , an unexpected jolly for TLP :+))

Greg
Greg
1 month ago

Would be nice if half the tomahawks carried nuclear warheads. Getting fed up with the narcissist and psychopath who runs Russia bleating he has nukes and can use them anytime he has a hissy fit. We should remind him so do we and ours are probably far more reliable. We should also unequivocally state any use of nuclear weapons against Ukraine will be viewed as a nuclear attack on the West. Might get his military to take him out before it’s too late.

Kenny
Kenny
1 month ago

I think a Nuclear war will happen,,.

Something Different
Something Different
1 month ago

Is anyone concerned about the rust on the boat or is they normal and nothing to be concerned about?

Steve
Steve
1 month ago

Worrying times

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago

Anyone else not getting email notifications of replies? It’s hard to keep tabs over multiple threads.

Simon
Simon
1 month ago

Bit off topic but “The Ministry of Defence has confirmed that the UK is sending Challenger 2 main battle tanks to Poland to backfill for T-72 tanks that Poland will send to Ukraine.

JamesD
JamesD
1 month ago
Reply to  Simon

Even though they would be an improvement over the T-72 it would be a logistical nightmare to maintain them along with the 3, soon to be 4 different tanks they already operate. Also I thought there was only a limited supply of ammo for chally with production stopped?

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  JamesD

Bit different if it is digitally aimed so getting close to one shot one kill – OK probably 30% by the time a few bounce off at the wrong angle but a whole different level to the random munition throwing that the Russians do.

Deep32
Deep32
1 month ago
Reply to  JamesD

They’ve just put a article ref Challenger up, UK manned short term only, they are not being gifted. Only until Polish replacement tanks arrive.

Tommo
Tommo
1 month ago

Yes Daniele, since my Samsung Auto updated

Deep32
Deep32
1 month ago

Ah. So I’m not the only one then! Haven’t been getting any notifications for about 10 days or so, thought it was something at my end!!!!

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Deep32

It’s a flipping nuisance mate.