We recently profiled the Tomahawk Land Attack Missile, the Raytheon-manufactured long-range subsonic cruise missile used for deep land attack warfare. The model currently in active use, the Tomahawk Bloc IV (TLAM-E), was first introduced in 2004. Missiles are scheduled to be temporarily removed from service for maintenance and recertification around halfway through their three-decade service life.

We talked to the company again recently to get a better sense of that process, which will soon see the first batch of deployed TLAM-Es making a return stop at their place of origin.

  1. How many missiles are taken out of service at a time, and how long does the process take? What specific components are addressed?
    While the exact number of missiles to be taken out of service (at any one time) is still to be determined, the first lot of missiles delivered in 2004 will be the first batch to undergo recertification/modernization. Recertification will include inspecting non-life limited components that support a 32-year service life, replace life-limited components (seals, energetics, desiccants) and the testing of electronic components. Exactly how long recertification will take is still being determined, but Raytheon has an impressive history of on-time delivery performance, and our customers should expect nothing less during the recertification/modernization process.
  2. While you’ve got the missiles back at the factory, are there additional weaponry capabilities that will be installed?
    Raytheon and the U.S. Government are investing over $2 billion dollars over the next five years to ensure that Tomahawk is the most capable long-range strike weapon in the world. The Tomahawk Block IV, introduced in 2004, was one of the original “networked” weapons, and the new radios being installed will ensure that Tomahawk will operate in any communications architecture. While the current Tomahawk Block IV has many inherent anti access/area denial (A2/AD) capabilities, the upgraded GPS capabilities will ensure Tomahawk can operate globally until the end of its service life. Another new feature will be the addition of a multi-mode sensor that will allow the new Maritime Strike Tomahawk (MST) variant to engage moving targets at sea. Lastly, a new warhead is in development that will give commanders greater options in using Tomahawk on a wider variety of targets.
  3. In looking at the overall picture of these improved capabilities, our understanding is that the Tomahawk is transitioning from a weapon to be used against “soft” targets (e.g., above-ground buildings) to one that can be used against “hardened” targets (e.g., reinforced underground bunkers) and moving targets. Tell us more.
    The current Tomahawk Block IV continues to redefine what a “soft” target is. As demonstrated by the recent strike into Syria, the current version of Tomahawk successfully met the commander’s objectives against bunkers, buildings, hangars and storage facilities — all against a modern Integrated Air Defense System (IADS). We are constantly improving Tomahawk based upon the needs of our customer(s). Those needs include the ability to strike additional target sets such as hardened or deeply buried targets. Additionally, the ability to strike moving targets at sea was identified, and we have developed a Maritime Strike Tomahawk (MST) that fills that need. To keep Tomahawk viable to our customers, it is important that we listen to our customer(s) and offer the latest in technology and advancements, at a competitive price.
  4. Looking to the future, the Navy has surveyed industry for input on its Next Generation Land Attack Weapon (NGLAW), for field trials within the 2028-30 timeframe. Does this mean the Tomahawk is on its way out? Will Raytheon be a player in whatever the next development may be?
    Raytheon continues to look to the future and our Advanced Missile Systems division is working on future solutions (beyond 2030) to provide the U.S. government capabilities to defeat emerging threats in that time frame.