For the first time

For the first time, the U.S. Navy test fired two Raytheon-built Tomahawk cruise missiles from new submarine payload tubes on the Virginia-class USS North Dakota (SSN-784). The tests, in the Gulf of Mexico near Florida, proved the submarine’s ability to load, carry and vertically launch Tomahawk missiles from the new Block III Virginia Payload Tube. The upgraded tubes feature fewer parts and will be even more reliable.

U.S. Navy fires first Tomahawk cruise missiles from new submarine payload tubes
U.S. Navy fires first Tomahawk cruise missiles from new submarine payload tubes

In addition to the new payload tubes, the U.S. Navy is also developing a new Virginia Payload Module (VPM). The new modules will triple the number of Tomahawk missiles that Virginia-class submarines can carry, dramatically increasing each sub’s firepower.

«As the Navy continues to modernize its subs, Raytheon continues to modernize Tomahawk, keeping this one-of-a-kind weapon well ahead of the threat», said Mike Jarrett, Raytheon Air Warfare Systems vice president. «Today’s Tomahawk is a far cry from its predecessors and tomorrow’s missile will feature even more capability, giving our sailors the edge they need for decades to come».

The U.S. Navy continues to upgrade the Tomahawk Block IV’s communications and navigation capabilities, while adding a multi-mode seeker so it can hit high-value moving targets at sea. These modernized Tomahawks are on track to deploy beginning in 2019 and will be in the U.S. Navy inventory beyond 2040.

Fired in combat more than 2,300 times, Tomahawk cruise missiles are used by U.S. and British forces to defeat integrated air defense systems and conduct long-range precision strike missions against high-value targets. Surface ships and other classes of submarines can carry more than 100 Tomahawks when needed.


General Characteristics

Primary Function Long-range subsonic cruise missile for striking high value or heavily defended land targets
Contractor Raytheon Systems Company, Tucson, Arizona
Date Deployed
Block II TLAM-A IOC* 1984
Block III TLAM-C, TLAM-D IOC* 1994
Block IV TLAM-E IOC* 2004
Unit Cost Approximately $569,000
Propulsion Williams International F107 cruise turbo-fan engine; ARC/CSD solid-fuel booster
Length 18 feet 3 inch/5.56 m; 20 feet 6 inch/6.25 m with booster
Diameter 20.4 inch/51.81 cm
Wingspan 8 feet 9 inch/2.67 m
Weight 2,900 lbs/1,315.44 kg; 3,500 lbs/1,587.6 kg with booster
Speed about 478 knots/550 mph/880 km/h
Block II TLAM-A 1,350 NM/1,500 statute miles/2,500 km
Block III TLAM-C 900 NM/1,000 statute miles/1,600 km
Block III TLAM-D 700 NM/800 statute miles/1,250 km
Block IV TLAM-E 900 NM/1,000 statute miles/1,600 km
Guidance System
Block III TLAM-C, D & Block IV TLAM-E INS**, TERCOM***, DSMAC****, GPS
Block II TLAM-N W80 nuclear warhead
Block III TLAM-D conventional submunitions dispenser with combined effect bomblets
Block III TLAM-C and Block IV TLAM-E unitary warhead

* Initial Operational Capability

** Inertial Navigation System

*** TERrain COtour Matching

**** Digital Scene-Mapping Area Correlator

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