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

The missile was named after the Native American axe.

Introduced by McDonnell Douglas in the 1970s, it was initially 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 due to corporate divestitures and acquisitions,
is now made by Raytheon.

Some Tomahawks were also manufactured by General Dynamics (now Boeing Defense,
Space & Security).

The Tomahawk missile family consists of a number of subsonic, jet engine-powered

missiles designed to attack a variety of surface targets.

Although a number of launch platforms have been deployed or envisaged, only sea
(both surface ship and submarine) launched variants are currently in service.

Tomahawk has a modular design, allowing a wide variety of warhead, guidance, and
range capabilities.


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

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.

Control & guidance

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.


Tomahawk Block IV missile is powered by a

Williams International F415 cruise turbo-fan
engine and ARC MK 135 rocket motor.


propulsion provides a subsonic speed of


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.

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 TLAM-D contains 166 sub-munitions 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 with the CBU-87
Combined Effects Munition.

The sub-munitions canisters are dispensed two at a time, one per side
TERCOM 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.


on comparison results the missile's inertial navigation

system is updated and the missile corrects its course.

TERCOM was based on, and was a significant improvement on,

"Fingerprint," a technology developed in 1964 for the SLAM.


Digital Scene Matching Area Correlation.

digitized image of an area is mapped and then inserted into a

TLAM mission.


the flight the missile will verify that the images that it
has stored correlates with the image it sees below itself.