Tomahawk Long-Range Cruise Missile, United States of America

Tomahawk Long-Range Cruise Missile

The Tomahawk is a long-range, all-weather, subsonic cruise missile in service with the surface ships and submarines of the US and Royal Navy. Originally produced by General Dynamics, Tomahawk is currently manufactured by Raytheon.

The Tomahawk can strike high value or heavily defended land targets. The Block II TLAM-A missile achieved its Initial Operating Capability in 1984. The missile was first deployed in combat during Operation Desert Storm in 1991.

Tomahawk orders and deliveries

"The Tomahawk is a long-range, all-weather, subsonic cruise missile."

In 1995, the US signed a Foreign Military Sales Agreement with United Kingdom to supply 65 Tomahawks for use with Royal Navy nuclear submarines. The first batch of missiles was delivered in 1998.

In 2003, the US Government approved an agreement to deliver 65 Tomahawk Block IV missiles for the United Kingdom. In August 2004, the US Navy placed a $1.6bn multi-year procurement contract with Raytheon for 2,200 Tomahawk Block IV missiles.

In March 2006, Raytheon was awarded a $346m production contract for 473 Tomahawk Block IV cruise missiles. The contract includes 65 submarine torpedo tube-launched missiles for the Royal Navy. The Block IV entered service with the Royal Navy in March 2008.

In March 2009, Raytheon was awarded a $207m worth firm fixed price contract for 207 Tomahawk Block IV All-Up-Round (AUR) missiles.

The 2,000th Tomahawk Block IV missile was delivered to the US Navy in February 2010.

In June 2012, the US Navy placed a $338m contract with Raytheon for the delivery of 361 Tomahawk Block IV tactical cruise missiles.

Tomahawk missile variants

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The Tomahawk family of missiles includes a number of variants carrying different warheads. The UGM-109A Tomahawk (Block II TLAM-A) carries a W80 nuclear warhead. The RGM/UGM-109C (Block III TLAM-C) is a conventional unitary variant carrying a 1,000lb class warhead. The RGM/UGM-109D (Block III TLAM-D) is a sub-munitions dispenser variant armed with 166 combined-effects bomblets.

The RGM/UGM-109E Tomahawk (Block IV TLAM-E) is the latest member in the Tomahawk missile family. It carries a 1,000lb class unitary warhead for a maximum range of 900nmi.

Tomahawk design features

The Tomahawk is designed to operate at very low altitudes, while maintaining high subsonic speeds. Its modular design allows the integration of numerous types of warheads, guidance and control systems. The missile carries a nuclear or conventional payload. It can be armed with a nuclear warhead or unitary warhead or a conventional sub-munitions dispenser with combined effect bomblets.

The Tomahawk missile has a length of 5.56m, diameter of 51.8cm and a wing span of 2.67m. The weight of the missile is 1,315kg.

The Tomahawk weapon system includes the Tomahawk missile, Theatre Mission Planning Centre (TMPC)/Afloat Planning System, and the Tomahawk Weapon Control System (TWCS) for surface vessels or Combat Control System (CCS) for submarines.

Guidance and control

The Tomahawk Block IV uses GPS navigation and a satellite data-link to continue through a pre-set course. The missile can be reprogrammed in-flight to a new target. The two-way satellite communications are utilised to perform post-launch mission changes throughout the flight. The on-board camera provides imagery of the target to the commanders.

The guidance system is assisted by Terrain Contour Matching (TERCOM). The Digital Scene Matching Area Correlation (DSMAC) system or GPS provide terminal guidance.

The Tactical Tomahawk Weapons Control System (TTWCS) integrated with the ship's systems computes the path to engage targets. The system allows the planning of new missions aboard the launch vessel. the TTWCS is also used to communicate with multiple missiles for reassigning the targets and redirecting the missiles in flight.


The Tomahawk Block IV missile is powered by a Williams International F415 cruise turbo-fan engine and ARC MK 135 rocket motor. The propulsion provides a subsonic speed of 880km/h.

Tomahawk launch platforms

"The missile can be launched from over 140 US Navy ships and submarines as well as Astute and Trafalgar class submarines of the Royal Navy."

The missile can be launched from over 140 US Navy ships and submarines as well as Astute and Trafalgar class submarines of the Royal Navy. All cruisers, destroyers, guided missile and attack submarines in the US Navy are equipped with a Tomahawk weapons system.

US Navy launch platforms were modified to accommodate upgraded Tomahawk missile variants. Four Ohio class nuclear ballistic missile submarines were converted into cruise missile submarines for firing Tomahawk missiles. The Virginia class submarines and the Royal Navy Astute class submarines were also fitted with new vertical launch modules for Tomahawk missile.

The Global Missiles and Missile Defence Systems Market 2011-2021

This project forms part of our recent analysis and forecasts of the global missiles and missile defence systems market available from our business information platform Strategic Defence Intelligence. For more information click here or contact us: EMEA: +44 20 79366783; Americas: +1 415 439 4914; Asia Pacific: +61 2 9947 9709 or via email.