The US Navy has awarded Raytheon a $119 million contract to begin integrating a new multi-mode seeker into the Tomahawk Block IV cruise missile.

The enhancement will enable the weapon to engage moving maritime targets.

The US Navy is conducting the new seeker development as a Rapid Deployment Capability program to meet urgent fleet requirements for defeating emerging maritime threats worldwide. Raytheon is expected to deliver this new capability by 2022.

“The US Navy and Raytheon are working closely together to further enhance this modern missile, keeping Tomahawk in the fleet for decades to come,” said Capt. Mark Johnson, Tomahawk program manager at US Naval Air Systems Command. “No other weapon on earth can match this cruise missile’s capability. Proven thousands of times in combat, Tomahawk is the nation’s weapon of choice.”

Launched from ships or submarines, the missile can fly into heavily defended airspace 1,000 statute miles away to conduct precise strikes on high-value targets with minimal collateral damage.

“Tomahawk’s new multi-mode seeker will add even more capability to this already advanced missile,” said Dave Adams, Raytheon Tomahawk program director. “Tomahawk is second to none in destroying stationary land targets, and soon the weapon will defeat moving maritime targets. Enemy vessels at sea will not elude Tomahawk.”

Raytheon is already modernising the systems radio suite and software under a separate Navy contract. Recertification on the first Block IVs is set to begin in 2019. That process will extend the missiles service life for 15 years and enable Raytheon to make enhancements to the missile.

18 COMMENTS

  1. “Enemy vessels at sea will not elude Tomahawk”. Well it isn’t very fast and it isn’t stealthy, so a modern CIWS shouldn’t find it too difficult to shoot down, should it?

    • Absolutely. It’s rubbish, don’t what the Yanks are doing wasting time on this. Certainly not wanted by backward navies like the USN or Royal Navy.

        • Steve wrote:
          “It does seem a bit strange, wonder what use case they have in mind.”
          The RGM 109 is a strategic cruise missile, meaning it has long legs. Currently the US Navy has no effective long range SSM system (LRASM should come on line within the next few years and the SM6 has a 30kg warhead (same as the Sea skua). With the advent of the Chinese DF 26, The new iteration of Indo-Russia BrahMos the USN is finding that its ability to strike surface ships under the protection of long range cover (air and surface) in which to assist its allies somewhat reduced. A short term solution appears to dual role a current SSM missile carried by all its Subs in which to offset that shortfall.

          • But as stated, they are very slow when compared to modern anti-ship missiles and are not specifically agil or stealthy, meaning they would be canon fodder for any defense missiles aboard the target. Range is great but doesn’t help if the missile is easily splatted well before it gets to its target.

          • Steve,
            Yes they are slow (Serbs have shot them down) but the fact remains it gives the US another string to their bow. But as stated it is a short term solution until the LRASM is up and running.

          • Indeed if you have to defend all your naval assets from a threat up to a thousand miles away that would put you under a massive pressure to get your decisions right and would limit your flexibility substantially. And that’s without mistakes bring made of ourse and as any good Admiral/Genearl will tell you it’s the one who makes the least who comes out on top. When US and indeed Russian ships can’t see merchantmen before colliding with them I would not simply take for granted that they would see and deal with every single tomahawk thrown at them. Even if they did it would reduce their inventory while the ship/submarine firing them stays relatively safe from reprisal.

          • I’m pretty sure attacking an unarmed civilian ship is a war crime, not something that the US or anyone should be designing weapons around.

        • A decent anti-air missile would take one down, sure, but even a UK supply ship, which is actually pretty well armed compared to some other nations, only has 2 x 30mm cannon and 2 x Phalanx of which only 1 of each is likely to be able to see an incoming target so supply ships would seem to be one very reasonable target.

          I doubt 30mm would hit it (a lucky shot, sure, but it’s not a given) – Tomahawk is still an almost 900kph missile. Phalanx could hit it sure but even with smaller targets there has been concern for a while that they would still have enough momentum to still hit the target after a Phalanx hit and be carrying enough kinetic energy to still do a fair amount of damage. Tomahawk is 1300kg so it would have significant momentum in flight and kinetic energy on impact.

          Also, even if aimed at ships that have or are under the umbrella of decent missile defences, it still takes out a couple of enemy missiles to do the intercept and, as Gunbuster said below, Tomahawk would very probably not be the only thing being launched at the target so it all helps to overload an enemy’s defences.

    • ASM tactics do not consist of a one shot one hit attack.
      You fire multiple missiles at a single target and using waypoints fly them to the target and time the arrival so that they attack from all directions at the same time (Pinwheel). That helps to negate CIWS and soft kill reactions.

      Previous discussions on Harpoon ( a T23 carries 8 of them) seemed to miss this. A single FF/DD target is going to receive probably 3 missiles per engagement. That means you have maybe 2-3 engagements max on a comparable target before you are shot out.

  2. The US Navy has awarded Raytheon a $119 million contract to begin integrating a new multi-mode seeker into the Tomahawk Block IV cruise missile. The enhancement will enable the weapon to engage moving maritime targets.

    What’s ironic about the above, is when the Tomahawk was first deployed it came in two iterations:
    Land attack (RGM-109A/C)
    Anti-ship (RGM-109B Tomahawk Anti Ship Missile (TASM))
    However with the collapse of the USSR, the Bs were all converted to Cs

    • As I understand it, the‘B’ variant was target specific against radars on certain Russian ships (I believe possibly ‘top sail’ search radars) With the end of the Cold War when the majority of ships carrying this system were retired, the variant of Tomahawk was no longer viable. Rather than alter the missile homing system, the weapons were more easily (and cheaply) converted back to standard configuration

  3. It’s strange that even the US with it’s near bottomless budget seems to have forgotten about the need for anti ship missiles and is now trying to fudge it, very much like the UK.

  4. As this is a dual purpose weapon then it could answer the problem of a UK replacement for Harpoon and give a parallel land attack capability on Type 26 (and Type 31?) and on attack subs. Means switching from the current Block 3, but we will have to anyway as production has ceased, and our stock is finite. To those who will say “it’s too long ranged to hit a moving target” then the answer is use it over shorter ranges, where the target is confirmed. The unused fuel will even enhance its destructive potential.

  5. You need to be very sure of what the target is if it’s 1000 miles away. You will also need to know where it is going to be 2 hours after you launch, and that something else which is not a target is not going to be in that spot instead. You’ll need a targeting fix all the time and you need to be sure that it won’t be lost by a cloud going overhead blocking the satelite image or some other problem during the flight. The details behind the rules of engagement for this could be unworkable.

    Besides all that, if it’s 1000 miles away the target possibly isn’t a threat anyway, and if it is, is very likely to be sufficently defended for a Tomahawk to not get through. Best to use a sub I think so you can be sure of all these things.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here