The Navy’s Tactical Tomahawk missile underwent a successful production acceptance test March 19 using Functional Ground Test (FGT) capability at Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Division’s (NSWC IHEODTD) Large Rocket Motor Test Facility in Indian Head, Maryland.
The Tomahawk land attack missile – managed by Naval Air Systems Command’s (NAVAIR) Program Executive Office for Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons (PEOU&W) – is an all-weather, long-range, sub-sonic cruise missile used for land attack warfare, and is launched from U.S. Navy surface ships and submarines.
«This latest FGT – which is the 84th we’ve conducted in the past 25 years – was in support of the RGM-109E Block IV, Vertical Launch System (VLS) full-rate production lot acceptance», said NSWC IHEODTD’s Michael Spriggs, senior engineer and FGT test conductor. «For the test, we used a single, representative missile from the full-rate production line to demonstrate the capability of this lot to perform mission requirements. The data we collected from the test will be used to verify the manufacturing processes and quality of missiles produced».
During the test, the missile is exercised at the system level as it would be in an operational flight through the detonation command, except that the missile is restrained in a specially designed test stand and is equipped with an inert warhead.
«After ‘launch,’ real-time, six-degree-of-freedom accredited mission simulation software provides inputs to the missile’s guidance system to mimic flight, targeting and detonation. The missile ‘flew’ for about an hour and 45 minutes before it successfully acquired the target», said NSWC IHEODTD FGT software lead Mike Gardner.
Because the missile remains intact, special instrumentation can be applied and thorough post-flight inspections can be conducted.
«Preliminary assessment indicates this missile performed as expected and all test objectives were achieved», said Spriggs.
According to Spriggs, the FGT program at NSWC IHEODTD began in 1990 as a basic test capability to support NAVAIR’s Tomahawk Weapons System Program Office (PMA-280), and has evolved along with the missile to support all variants. In addition to acceptance testing, FGTs are conducted to verify new missiles; assess service life of aged missiles; monitor stockpiled missiles; or observe newly engineered components.
«We anticipate conducting the next FGT later this fiscal year to sample a capsule launching system variant», said NSWC IHEODTD’s Phillip Vaughn, FGT program manager.
NSWC IHEODTD is a field activity of the Naval Sea Systems Command and is part of the Department of the Navy’s science and engineering enterprise. The division is the leader in energetics, energetic materials, and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) knowledge, tools, equipment. The division focuses on the research, development, test, evaluation, in-service support, and disposal of energetics and energetic systems as well as works to provide Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, and Airmen worldwide with the information and technological solutions they need to detect/locate, access, identify, render safe, recover/exploit, and dispose of both conventional and unconventional explosive threats.
Tomahawk cruise missile
The Tomahawk Land Attack Missile (TLAM) is an all-weather, long range, subsonic cruise missile used for land attack warfare, launched from U. S. Navy surface ships and U.S. Navy and Royal Navy submarines.
Tomahawk carries a nuclear or conventional payload. The conventional, land-attack, unitary variant carries a 1,000-pound-class (453.6 kg) warhead (TLAM-C) while the submunitions dispenser variant carries 166 combined-effects bomblets (TLAM-D).
The Block III version incorporates engine improvements, an insensitive extended range warhead, time-of-arrival control and navigation capability using an improved Digital Scene Matching Area Correlator (DSMAC) and Global Positioning System (GPS), which can significantly reduce mission-planning time and increase navigation and terminal accuracy.
Tomahawk Block IV (TLAM-E) is the latest improvement to the Tomahawk missile family. Block IV capability enhancements include:
- increased flexibility utilizing two-way satellite communications to reprogram the missile in-flight to a new aimpoint or new preplanned mission, send a new mission to the missile enroute to a new target, and missile health and status messages during the flight;
- increased responsiveness with faster launch timelines, mission planning capability aboard the launch platform, loiter capability in the area of emerging targets, the ability to provide battle damage indication in the target area, and the capability to provide a single-frame image of the target or other areas of interest along the missile flight path;
- improved affordability with a production cost of a Block IV significantly lower than the cost of a new Block III and a 15-year Block IV recertification interval compared to the eight-year interval for Block III.
Tomahawk cruise missiles are designed to fly at extremely low altitudes at high subsonic speeds, and are piloted over an evasive route by several mission tailored guidance systems. The first operational use was in Operation Desert Storm, 1991, with immense success. The missile has since been used successfully in several other conflicts. In 1995 the governments of the United States and United Kingdom signed a Foreign Military Sales Agreement for the acquisition of 65 missiles, marking the first sale of Tomahawk to a foreign country.
|Primary Function||Long-range subsonic cruise missile for striking high value or heavily defended land targets|
|Contractor||Raytheon Systems Company, Tucson, Arizona|
|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|
|Block II TLAM-A||INS**, TERCOM***|
|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