HMS Audacious, an Astute-class nuclear submarine, has been loading Tomahawk cruise missiles in Gibraltar.
HMS Audacious loading Tomahawk Land Attack Missile (TLAM) in #Gibraltar
— Navy Lookout (@NavyLookout) April 19, 2022
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.