Recent improvements on Raytheon’s Tomahawk cruise missile are making it the “transformer of modern weapons,” according to the company.
Tomahawk missiles have now become one-way unmanned aircraft. The Tomahawk Block IV can circle for hours in-air after launch while beaming back pictures and reconnaissance before striking their target.
“Today’s Tomahawk is network-enabled, allowing controllers anywhere in the world to use almost any sensor to guide it to the target. Equipped with a jam-resistant GPS receiver, a Tomahawk can change targets on the fly and operate in the harshest environments,” the company says.
The latest iterations of Tomahawk missiles also include a two-way satellite data-link allowing missiles to be rerouted in flight to preprogrammed locations. Tests are currently underway to prove that Tomahawks can effectively and accurately hit moving targets and targets at sea.
Tomahawks are a standard in the U.S. Navy with most major warships carrying some iteration of the missile. Over the past 20 years, Tomahawk missiles have been used in over 2,000 combat missiles.
The Navy’s reliance upon Tomahawk missiles is due in large part to its accuracy. During the Gulf War, the missiles had an accuracy rate of 85%, destroying Iraqi air defences and strategic locations.
These missiles also played a vital role during NATO operations against Moammar Gadhafi in Libya, as more than 200 Tomahawks crippled Libya’s air force.
The success of Tomahawks does not come cheaply. Each missile costs $US1.4 million, further raising the price tag for waging war, according to the Center for Public Integrity. Despite complaints over the missile’s cost, there are currently no cheaper alternatives to the cruise missile.
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