BGM-109 Tomahawk
The Tomahawk (ˈtɒməhɔːk, ˈtɑːməhɔːk) is a long-range, all-weather, subsonic cruise missile
Cruise missile
A cruise missile is a guided missile that carries an explosive payload and is propelled, usually by a jet engine, towards a land-based or sea-based target. Cruise missiles are designed to deliver a large warhead over long distances with high accuracy...

. Introduced by General Dynamics
General Dynamics
General Dynamics Corporation is a U.S. defense conglomerate formed by mergers and divestitures, and as of 2008 it is the fifth largest defense contractor in the world. Its headquarters are in West Falls Church , unincorporated Fairfax County, Virginia, in the Falls Church area.The company has...

 in the 1970s, it was designed as a medium- to long-range, low-altitude missile that could be launched from a surface platform. It has been improved several times and, by way of corporate divestitures and acquisitions, is now made by Raytheon
Raytheon Company is a major American defense contractor and industrial corporation with core manufacturing concentrations in weapons and military and commercial electronics. It was previously involved in corporate and special-mission aircraft until early 2007...

. Some Tomahawks were also manufactured by McDonnell Douglas
McDonnell Douglas
McDonnell Douglas was a major American aerospace manufacturer and defense contractor, producing a number of famous commercial and military aircraft. It formed from a merger of McDonnell Aircraft and Douglas Aircraft in 1967. McDonnell Douglas was based at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport...

 (now Boeing Defense, Space & Security).


The Tomahawk missile family consists of a number of subsonic, jet engine-powered missiles for attacking a variety of surface targets. Although a number of launch platforms have been deployed or envisaged, only naval (both surface ship and submarine) launched variants are currently in service. Tomahawk has a modular design, allowing a wide variety of warhead
The term warhead refers to the explosive material and detonator that is delivered by a missile, rocket, or torpedo.- Etymology :During the early development of naval torpedoes, they could be equipped with an inert payload that was intended for use during training, test firing and exercises. This...

, guidance and range capabilities.


There have been several variants of the BGM-109 Tomahawk employing various types of warheads.
  • AGM-109H/L Medium Range Air to Surface Missile (MRASM) - a shorter range, turbojet powered ASM
    Air-to-surface missile
    An air-to-surface missile is a missile designed to be launched from military aircraft and strike ground targets on land, at sea, or both...

     with bomblet munitions; never entered service.
  • BGM-109A Tomahawk Land Attack Missile - Nuclear (TLAM-A) with a W80 nuclear warhead.
  • BGM-109C Tomahawk Land Attack Missile - Conventional (TLAM-C) with a unitary warhead.
  • BGM-109D Tomahawk Land Attack Missile - Dispenser (TLAM-D) with submunitions.
  • BGM-109G Ground Launched Cruise Missile (GLCM)- with a W84
    The W84 is an American thermonuclear warhead designed for use on the BGM-109G Gryphon Ground Launched Cruise Missile . It is a derivative of the B61 nuclear bomb design and a close relative of the W80 warhead used on the AGM-86 ALCM, AGM-129 ACM, and BGM-109 Tomahawk SLCM cruise missiles.The W84...

     nuclear warhead; withdrawn from service in 1987.
  • RGM/UGM-109B Tomahawk Anti Ship Missile (TASM) - radar guided anti-shipping variant.
  • RGM/UGM-109E Tomahawk Land Attack Missile (TLAM Block IV) - improved version of the TLAM-C.

Ground Launch Cruise Missiles (GLCM
Ground Launched Cruise Missile
The Ground Launched Cruise Missile, or GLCM, was a ground-launched cruise missile developed by the United States Air Force in the last decade of the Cold War.-Overview:...

) and their truck-like launch vehicles were employed at bases in Europe; it was withdrawn from service to comply with the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty
Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty
The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty is a 1987 agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union. Signed in Washington, D.C. by U.S. President Ronald Reagan and General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev on December 8, 1987, it was ratified by the United States Senate on May 27, 1988 and...

. Many of the anti-ship versions were converted into TLAMs at the end of the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

. The Block III TLAMs that entered service in 1993 can fly farther and use Global Positioning System
Global Positioning System
The Global Positioning System is a space-based global navigation satellite system that provides location and time information in all weather, anywhere on or near the Earth, where there is an unobstructed line of sight to four or more GPS satellites...

 (GPS) receivers to strike more precisely. Block IV TLAMs have a better Digital Scene Matching Area Correlator (DSMAC) system as well as improved turbofan engines. The F107-402 engine provided the new BLK III with a throttle control, allowing in-flight speed changes. This engine also provided better fuel economy. The Block IV Phase II TLAMs have better deep-strike capabilities and are equipped with a real-time targeting system for striking moving targets.

Enroute, some missiles may also execute a Precision Strike Tomahawk Mission (PST) transmitting its status back to a ground station via satellite communication.

Tactical Tomahawk

A major improvement to the Tomahawk is network-centric warfare
Network-centric warfare
Network-centric warfare, also called network-centric operations, is a military doctrine or theory of war pioneered by the United States Department of Defense in the 1990's....

-capabilities, using data from multiple sensors (aircraft, UAV
Unmanned aerial vehicle
An unmanned aerial vehicle , also known as a unmanned aircraft system , remotely piloted aircraft or unmanned aircraft, is a machine which functions either by the remote control of a navigator or pilot or autonomously, that is, as a self-directing entity...

s, satellites, foot soldiers, tanks, ships) to find its target. It will also be able to send data from its sensors to these platforms. It will be a part of the networked force being implemented by the Pentagon.

"Tactical Tomahawk" equips the TLAM with a TV-camera for with loitering capability that allows commanders to assess damage to the target and to redirect the missile to an alternative target, if required. It can be reprogrammed in-flight to attack one of 15 predesignated targets with GPS coordinates stored in its memory or to any other GPS coordinates. Also, the missile can send data about its status back to the commander. It entered service with the US Navy in late 2004.

In May 2009, Raytheon Missile Systems proposed an upgrade to the Tomahawk Block IV land-attack cruise missile that would allow it to destroy or disable large, hardened warships at 900 nautical miles (1,666.8 km) range.

Launch systems

Each missile is stored and launched from a pressurized canister that protects it during transportation and storage and acts as a launch tube. These canisters are racked in Armored Box Launcher
Armored Box Launcher
The Armored Box Launcher is a four-round protected launch container for the BGM-109 Tomahawk Cruise Missile.Fitted to the Iowa-class battleships following their 1980s recommissioning upgrade, each ABL contains four ready-to-fire Tomahawks...

s (ABL), commonly found on Iowa class battleships such as the USS Iowa
USS Iowa (BB-61)
USS Iowa was the lead ship of her class of battleship and the fourth in the United States Navy to be named in honor of the 29th state...

, USS New Jersey
USS New Jersey (BB-62)
USS New Jersey , is an , and was the second ship of the United States Navy to be named in honor of the U.S. state of New Jersey. New Jersey earned more battle stars for combat actions than the other three completed Iowa-class battleships, and is the only U.S...

, USS Missouri
USS Missouri (BB-63)
|USS Missouri is a United States Navy Iowa-class battleship, and was the fourth ship of the U.S. Navy to be named in honor of the U.S. state of Missouri...

, and USS Wisconsin
USS Wisconsin (BB-64)
USS Wisconsin , "Wisky" or "WisKy", is an , the second ship of the United States Navy to be named in honor of the U.S. state of Wisconsin...

. These canisters are also in Vertical Launch Systems (VLS) in other surface ships, Capsule Launch Systems (CLS) in the later Los Angeles class
Los Angeles class submarine
The Los Angeles class, sometimes called the LA class or the 688 class, is a class of nuclear-powered fast attack submarines that forms the backbone of the United States submarine fleet. With 43 submarines on active duty and 19 retired, the Los Angeles class is the most numerous nuclear powered...

 submarines, and in submarines' torpedo tube
Torpedo tube
A torpedo tube is a device for launching torpedoes. There are two main types of torpedo tube: underwater tubes fitted to submarines and some surface ships, and deck-mounted units installed aboard surface vessels...

s. All ABL equipped ships have been decommissioned.

For submarine-launched missiles (called UGM-109s), after being ejected by gas pressure (vertically via the VLS) or by water impulse (horizontally via the torpedo tube), the missile exits the water and a solid-fuel booster is ignited for the first few seconds of airborne flight until transition to cruise.

After achieving flight, the missile's wings are unfolded for lift, the airscoop is exposed and the turbofan engine is employed for cruise flight. Over water, the Tomahawk uses inertial guidance or GPS to follow a preset course; once over land, the missile's guidance system is aided by Terrain Contour Matching
Terrain Contour Matching, or TERCOM, is a navigation system used primarily by cruise missiles. It uses a pre-recorded contour map of the terrain that is compared to measurements made during flight by an on-board radar altimeter. A TERCOM system considerably increases the accuracy of a missile...

 (TERCOM). Terminal guidance is provided by the Digital Scene Matching Area Correlation (DSMAC) system or GPS, producing a claimed accuracy of about 10 meters.

The Tomahawk Weapon System consists of the missile, Theater Mission Planning Center (TMPC)/Afloat Planning System, and either the Tomahawk Weapon Control System (on surface ships) or Combat Control System (for submarines).

Several versions of control systems have been used, including:
  • v2 TWCS - Tomahawk Weapon Control System (1983), also known as "green screens," was based on an old tank computing system.
  • v3 ATWCS - Advanced Tomahawk Weapon Control System (1994), first Commercial Off the Shelf, uses HP-UX
    HP-UX is Hewlett-Packard's proprietary implementation of the Unix operating system, based on UNIX System V and first released in 1984...

  • v4 TTWCS - Tactical Tomahawk Weapon Control System, (2003).
  • v5 TTWCS - Next Generation Tactical Tomahawk Weapon Control System. (2006)

Other details

The TLAM-D contains 166 sub-munitions
Cluster bomb
A cluster munition is a form of air-dropped or ground-launched explosive weapon that releases or ejects smaller sub-munitions. Commonly, this is a cluster bomb that ejects explosive bomblets that are designed to kill enemy personnel and destroy vehicles...

 in 24 canisters; 22 canisters of seven each, and two canisters of six each to conform to the dimensions of the airframe. The sub-munitions are the same type of Combined Effects Munition bomblet used in large quantities by the U.S. Air Force. The sub-munitions canisters are dispensed two at a time, one per side. The missile can perform up to five separate target segments which enables it to attack multiple targets. However in order to achieve a sufficient density of coverage typically all 24 canisters are dispensed sequentially from back to front.

Terrain Contour Matching, or TERCOM, is a navigation system used primarily by cruise missiles. It uses a pre-recorded contour map of the terrain that is compared to measurements made during flight by an on-board radar altimeter. A TERCOM system considerably increases the accuracy of a missile...

 - Terrain Contour Matching. A digital representation of an area of terrain is mapped based on digital terrain elevation data or stereo imagery. This map is then inserted into a TLAM mission which is then loaded on to the missile. When the missile is in flight it compares the stored map data with radar altimeter data collected as the missile overflies the map. Based on comparison results the missile's inertial navigation system is updated and the missile corrects its course.

DSMAC - Digital Scene Matching Area Correlation. A digitized image of an area is mapped and then inserted into a TLAM mission. During the flight the missile will verify that the images that it has stored correlates with the image it sees below itself. Based on comparison results the missile's inertial navigation system is updated and the missile corrects its course.
  • Total program cost: $US 11,210,000,000

United States Navy

  • In the 1991 Persian Gulf War
    Gulf War
    The Persian Gulf War , commonly referred to as simply the Gulf War, was a war waged by a U.N.-authorized coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.The war is also known under other names, such as the First Gulf...

    , 288 Tomahawks were launched. The first salvo was fired by the cruiser USS San Jacinto
    USS San Jacinto (CG-56)
    USS San Jacinto is a in the United States Navy. She is named for the Battle of San Jacinto, the decisive battle of the Texas Revolution....

     on January 17, 1991. The attack submarines USS Pittsburgh
    USS Pittsburgh (SSN-720)
    USS Pittsburgh , a , was the fourth ship of the United States Navy to be named for Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The contract to build her was awarded to the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics Corporation in Groton, Connecticut on 16 April 1979 and her keel was laid down on 15 April 1983. She...

     and USS Louisville
    USS Louisville (SSN-724)
    USS Louisville , a , was the fourth ship of the United States Navy to be named for Louisville, Kentucky. The contract to build her was awarded to the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics Corporation in Groton, Connecticut on 11 February 1982 and her keel was laid down on 24 September 1984. ...


  • This was repeated during the 2003 invasion of Iraq
    2003 invasion of Iraq
    The 2003 invasion of Iraq , was the start of the conflict known as the Iraq War, or Operation Iraqi Freedom, in which a combined force of troops from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland invaded Iraq and toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein in 21 days of major combat operations...

    . The United States Navy has a stockpile of around 3,500 Tomahawk cruise missiles of all variants, worth a combined total of approximately US $2.6 billion.

  • On 26 June 1993, 23 Tomahawks were fired at the Iraqi Intelligence Service's command and control center.

  • On 10 September 1995, the USS Normandy launched 13 Tomahawk missiles from the central Adriatic Sea against a key air defense radio relay tower in Bosnian Serb territory during Operation Deliberate Force.

  • On 3 September 1996, 44 cruise missiles between UGM-109 and B-52 launched AGM-86s, were fired at air defence targets in Southern Iraq.

  • On 20 August 1998, around 75 Tomahawk missiles were fired
    Operation Infinite Reach
    The August 1998 bombings of Afghanistan and Sudan were American cruise missile strikes on terrorist bases in Afghanistan and a pharmaceutical factory in Sudan on August 20, 1998...

     simultaneously to two separate target areas in Afghanistan and Sudan in retaliation to the bombings of American embassies by Al-Quaeda.

  • On 16 December 1998, Tomahawk missiles were fired at key Iraqi targets in during Operation Desert Fox.

  • In spring 1999, 218 Tomahawk missiles were fired by US ships and a British submarine during Operation Allied Force
    1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia
    The NATO bombing of Yugoslavia was NATO's military operation against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia during the Kosovo War. The strikes lasted from March 24, 1999 to June 10, 1999...

     against key targets in Yugoslavia
    Yugoslavia refers to three political entities that existed successively on the western part of the Balkans during most of the 20th century....


  • In October 2001, approximately 50 Tomahawk missiles struck terrorist targets in Afghanistan in the opening hours of Operation Enduring Freedom.

  • During the 2003 invasion of Iraq
    2003 invasion of Iraq
    The 2003 invasion of Iraq , was the start of the conflict known as the Iraq War, or Operation Iraqi Freedom, in which a combined force of troops from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland invaded Iraq and toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein in 21 days of major combat operations...

    , more than 725 tomahawk missiles were fired to key Iraqi targets.

  • In 2009 the Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States stated that Japan would be concerned if the TLAM-N were retired, but the government of Japan has denied that it had expressed any such view.

  • On 17 December 2009 a TLAM-D missile was fired at an an 'alleged al-Qa’ida training camp' in al-Ma’jalah in al-Mahfad a region of the Abyan governorate of Yemen
    The Republic of Yemen , commonly known as Yemen , is a country located in the Middle East, occupying the southwestern to southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, the Red Sea to the west, and Oman to the east....

    . Ammnesty international reported that 55 people were killed in the attack, including 41 civilians (21 children, 14 women, and six men). The US and Yeman governments refused to confirm or deny involvement, but diplomatic cables released as part of Cablegate later confirmed the missile was fired by a US Navy ship.

  • On 19 March 2011, 124 Tomahawk missiles were fired
    2011 military intervention in Libya
    On 19 March 2011, a multi-state coalition began a military intervention in Libya to implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which was taken in response to events during the 2011 Libyan civil war...

     by U.S. and British forces (122 US, 2 British) against at least 20 Libya
    Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

    n targets around Tripoli
    Tripoli is the capital and largest city in Libya. It is also known as Western Tripoli , to distinguish it from Tripoli, Lebanon. It is affectionately called The Mermaid of the Mediterranean , describing its turquoise waters and its whitewashed buildings. Tripoli is a Greek name that means "Three...

     and Misrata. As of 22 March 2011, 159 UGM-109 were fired by US and UK ships against Libyan targets.

Royal Navy

The United States agreed to sell more than 60 Tomahawks to the United Kingdom in 1995 for use with Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 nuclear submarines. The first missiles were acquired and test-fired in 1998.

All Royal Navy fleet submarines are currently Tomahawk capable, including the new Astute-class
Astute class submarine
The Astute-class is the latest class of nuclear-powered fleet submarines in service with the Royal Navy. The class sets a new standard for the Royal Navy in terms of weapons load, communication facilities and stealth. The boats are being constructed by BAE Systems Submarine Solutions at...

 attack submarine.

In 2004, the UK and US governments reached an agreement for the British to buy 64 of the new generation of Tomahawk missile—the Block IV or TacTom missile. The SYLVER
SYLVER launcher
The Sylver is a vertical missile launcher designed by DCNS. The launcher comes in several variants, each distinguished by their height...

 vertical launch system to be fitted to the new Type 45 destroyer
Type 45 destroyer
The United Kingdom's Type 45 destroyer is an air defence destroyer programme of the Royal Navy which will replace its Type 42 destroyers. The first ship in the class, HMS Daring, was launched on 1 February 2006 and commissioned on 23 July 2009. The ships are now built by BAE Systems Surface Ships...

 is claimed by its manufacturers to have the capability to fire the Tomahawk. Therefore it would appear that Tomahawk is a candidate to be fitted to the Type 45 if required. France, which also uses the SYLVER launcher, is developing a version of the Storm Shadow
Storm Shadow
Storm Shadow is a British, French and Italian air-launched cruise missile, manufactured by MBDA. Storm Shadow is the British name for the weapon; in French service it is called SCALP EG...

/Scalp cruise missile capable of launch from the SYLVER system, which would give a similar land attack capability.

The Kosovo War
Kosovo War
The term Kosovo War or Kosovo conflict was two sequential, and at times parallel, armed conflicts in Kosovo province, then part of FR Yugoslav Republic of Serbia; from early 1998 to 1999, there was an armed conflict initiated by the ethnic Albanian "Kosovo Liberation Army" , who sought independence...

 in 1999 saw HMS Splendid
HMS Splendid (S106)
HMS Splendid was a Royal Navy nuclear powered fleet submarine of the Swiftsure class. HMS Splendid was launched at Barrow on 5 October 1979, by Lady Ann Eberle, wife of Admiral Sir James Eberle, then Commander-in-Chief Fleet...

 become the first British submarine to fire the Tomahawk in combat. It has been reported that seventeen of the twenty Tomahawks fired by the British during that conflict hit their targets accurately. The Royal Navy later used them during the 2001 Afghanistan War
War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
The War in Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001, as the armed forces of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Afghan United Front launched Operation Enduring Freedom...

, in Operation Telic
Operation Telic
Operation TELIC was the codename under which all British military operations in Iraq were conducted between the start of the Invasion of Iraq on 19 March 2003 and the withdrawal of the last remaining British forces on 22 May 2011...

, the British contribution to the 2003 Iraq War, and during Operation Ellamy
Operation Ellamy
Operation Ellamy was the codename for the United Kingdom participation in the 2011 military intervention in Libya. The operation was part of an international coalition aimed at enforcing a Libyan no-fly zone in accordance with the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 which stipulated...

 in Libya in 2011.

The Royal Navy has purchased the Block IV tomahawk which entered service on 27 March 2008, three months ahead of schedule.

Other users

The Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 (2005) and Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 (2002 and 2005) were interested in acquiring the Tomahawk system, but the orders were later cancelled in 2007 and 2009 respectively.
It is believed that the SLCM version of the Popeye
AGM-142 Have Nap
The Popeye is an air to ground missile developed and in use by Israel, of which several types have been developed for Israeli and export users. A substantially modified long range cruise missile variant of the Popeye Turbo is believed to be used to arm the Israeli submarine based nuclear forces...

 was developed by Israel after the US Clinton administration refused an Israeli request in 2000 to purchase Tomahawk SLCM's because of international MTCR
Missile Technology Control Regime
The Missile Technology Control Regime is an informal and voluntary partnership between 34 countries to prevent the proliferation of missile and unmanned aerial vehicle technology capable of carrying a 500 kg payload at least 300 km....

 proliferation rules.

See also

  • List of missiles
    • RK-55
      The Novator RK-55 Granat was a Soviet land-based cruise missile with a nuclear warhead. It was about to enter service in 1987 when such weapons were banned under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty...

    • 3M-54 Klub
      3M-54 Klub
      The Russian 3M-54 Klub is a multi-role missile system developed by the Novator Design Bureau. Its NATO reporting name is SS-N-27. Both submarine and surface ship launched versions exist. The system is designed to accept various warheads, allowing its use against surface and subsurface naval...

    • Raduga Kh-55
      Raduga Kh-55
      The Kh-55 is a Soviet/Russian air-launched cruise missile, designed by MKB Raduga. It has a range of up to and can carry conventional or nuclear warheads...

    • AGM-129 ACM
      AGM-129 ACM
      * Missile of the same class** Ra'ad ** TAURUS KEPD 350 ** Storm Shadow -Notes:# Alleged violations of the Antideficiency Act in the Air Force’s procurement of advanced cruise missiles.FILE B-255831, Office of the General Counsel, United States General Accounting Office.# Union Calls for Strike by...

    • Nirbhay
    • Hyunmoo-3
    • DH-10
      The DongHai 10 is a cruise missile developed in the People's Republic of China by the Third Academy by CASIC.According to Janes, the DH-10 is a second-generation land-attack cruise missile , integrated inertial navigation system, GPS, terrain contour mapping system, and digital scene-matching...

    • Babur missile
      Babur missile
      Babur , also designated Hatf VII, is the first land attack cruise missile to be developed by Pakistan....

  • UGM-89 Perseus
    UGM-89 Perseus
    The UGM-89 Perseus was a proposed U.S. Navy submarine-launched anti-ship and anti-submarine cruise missile that was developed under the Submarine Tactical Missile project, which was also referred to as the Submarine Anti-ship Weapon System...

  • ArcLight (missile)
    ArcLight (Missile)
    The ArcLight program is a missile development program of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency with the goal of equipping ships like Aegis cruisers with a weapon system that is capable of striking targets nearly anywhere on the globe, thereby increasing the power of surface ships to a level...

  • Scalp Naval (missile)

External links

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