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BGM-109 Tomahawk



Tomahawk is an all-weather submarine or ship-launched land-attack cruise missile. After launch, a solid propellant propels the missile until a small turbofan engine takes over for the cruise portion of flight. Tomahawk is a highly survivable weapon. Radar detection is difficult because of the missile's small cross-section, low altitude flight. Similarly, infrared detection is difficult because the turbofan engine emits little heat. Systems include Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver; an upgrade of the optical Digital Scene Matching Area Correlation (DSMAC) system; Time of Arrival (TOA) control, and improved 402 turbo engines.
The Tomahawk land-attack cruise missile has been used to attack a variety of fixed targets, including air defense and communications sites, often in high-threat environments. The land attack version of Tomahawk has inertial and terrain contour matching (TERCOM) radar guidance. The TERCOM radar uses a stored map reference to compare with the actual terrain to determine the missile's position. If necessary, a course correction is then made to place the missile on course to the target. Terminal guidance in the target area is provided by the optical Digital Scene Matching Area Correlation (DSMAC) system, which compares a stored image of target with the actual target image.

The Tomahawk missile provides a long-range, highly survivable, unmanned land attack weapon system capable of pinpoint accuracy. The Surface Navy's deep strike capability resides in the Tomahawk missile system - the proven weapon of choice for contingency missions.
Tomahawk's operational environment is changing significantly. The first operational design involved global warfare using conventional Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAM) against known, fixed, non-hardened targets. The strategic assumptions underlying this environment continue to change. Tomahawk Weapon System (TWS) capability is evolving into major systems with expanding capabilities. Today, Tomahawk is able to respond to rapidly developing scenarios and attack emerging land-based targets. A more diverse threat coupled with a smaller U.S. force structure place an absolute premium on system flexibility and responsiveness.
The projected operational environment for Tomahawk is now characterized by scenarios in which the U.S. Navy will most likely be called upon to defend U.S. interests in regional conflicts, in crisis response, or to execute national policy. Tomahawk will operate from littoral seas as an integral part of joint forces.
During the critical early days of a regional conflict, Tomahawk, in conjunction with other land attack systems and tactical aircraft, denies or delays forward movement of enemy forces, neutralize the enemy's ability to conduct air operations, and suppress enemy air defenses. In addition, Tomahawk attacks high value targets such as electrical generating facilities, command and control nodes, and weapons assembly/storage facilities. Thus, making Tomahawk the weapon of choice to strike reinforced, hardened targets.
The Tomahawk Weapon System (TWS) is comprised of four major components: Tomahawk Missile, Theater Mission Planning Center (TMPC)/Afloat Planning System (APS), Tomahawk Weapon Control System (TWCS) for surface ships, and Combat Control System (CCS) for submarines.
Ships and submarines have different weapon control systems (WCSs). A vertical launching system (VLS) accommodates missile stowage and launch on ships. On all attack submarines, missiles are launched from torpedo tubes (with stowage in the torpedo room); in addition, some attack submarines have VLS located forward, external to the pressure hull, which will handle both stowage and launch.
 General characteristics
Primary function Long-range subsonic cruise missile for attacking land targets
Contractors Hughes, McDonnell Douglas
Weight missile 2,650 lb 1,202 kg
warhead 1,000 lb 453.6 kg
Length 18.2 ft 5.55 m
Diameter 1.8 ft 0.55 m
Wingspan 8.7 ft 2.65 m
Guidance TERCOM, DSMAC
Power plant Williams International F107-WR-402 cruise turbo-fan engine; solid-fuel booster
Speed Mach 0.5 –0.75 597-895 km/h
Flight altitude 50-100 ft 15-30.5 m
Range BGM-109A 1,550 miles 2,494 km
BGM-109B ± 290 miles 467 km
BGM-109C/D 800 miles 1,287 km
Warheads Conventional: 1,000 pounds or conventional submunitions dispenser with combined effect bomblets.
Circular error probable Approximately 33 ft 10 m


Jirka Wagner

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Last updated 13.11.2012