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
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
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
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
located forward, external to the pressure hull, which will handle both stowage and launch.
| General characteristics
||Long-range subsonic cruise missile for attacking land targets
||Hughes, McDonnell Douglas
||Williams International F107-WR-402 cruise turbo-fan engine;
||Mach 0.5 –0.75
||± 290 miles
||Conventional: 1,000 pounds or conventional submunitions
dispenser with combined effect bomblets.
|Circular error probable
||Approximately 33 ft
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Last updated 01.01.2017