The US Navy has completed two operational flight tests of Raytheon Missiles & Defense-developed Tomahawk cruise missile Block V variant.

Two Block V missiles were launched by the guided-missile destroyer USS Chaffee (DDG-90) destroyer off the California coast during testing.

Using their new advanced communications architecture systems, the missiles were redirected mid-flight to targeted ranges on San Nicolas Island and Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake in California, US.

Raytheon Missiles & Defence Naval Power vice-president Kim Ernzen said: “These tests keep the navy on schedule to introduce Block V into the fleet next year.

“Our modernisation and recertification efforts will also extend the missile’s service life by 15 years.”

The Tomahawk Weapons System, which is the US Navy’s precision strike stand-off weapon, is a GPS-enabled missile capable of flying into highly defended airspace.

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It is also capable of conducting precise strikes with less ‘collateral damage’.

The Block V variant features Navigation/Communications (NAV/COMMs), a Theater Mission Planning Center (TMPC) system, and the Tactical Tomahawk Weapons Control System (TTWCS) upgrades.

Tomahawk Weapons System programme manager captain John Red said: “This is the culmination of years of planning and effort.

“We’re working every day to modernise the Tomahawk missile, and to deliver the best warfighting capability to the fleet.”

Furthermore, enhancements such as a maritime strike capability (Block Va) and a programmable warhead for an expanded land attack capability (Block Vb) are under development.

According to Raytheon Missiles & Defence, Block Va will strike ‘moving targets at sea’ and Block Vb will strike a more ‘diverse’ set of land targets.

In September, the US Navy’s Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser USS Antietam launched Tomahawk land attack cruise-missile (TLAM).