Raytheon is negotiating with the UK to jointly fund tube-launched version of the weapon for Royal Navy submarines

Raytheon is planning to begin flight testing the US Navy's new Tactical Tomahawk land attack cruise missile shortly. Talks are proceeding with the UK to jointly fund a torpedo tube launch (TTL) version of the missile for the Royal Navy's submarines. Following the recent completion of Tactical Tomahawk ground testing, Raytheon is preparing to start company flight trials. The flight test phase calls for two test firings by the contractor to be followed by eight conducted by the USN. These will be followed by navy operational evaluation firings beginning next year ahead of entry into service in the summer of 2004.

Raytheon hopes to have an agreement in place with the UK, possibly this month, to start work on a TTL version of the Block IV Tactical Tomahawk that could be ready for service by 2006, says Gordon McKenzie, Raytheon Tomahawk business development manager. The USN is looking to join next year.

Modifications will be confined to interface changes and flight control software. The main work will be focused on adapting the present Tomahawk Block III TTL canister to accommodate the Block IV missile. The existing Tactical Tomahawk is designed for surface ship and submarine vertical launch, which does not require the canister.

TTL was dropped from the Tactical Tomahawk specification to halve costs. The Block IV missile, compared to Block III, has a lighter structure and, as a result, it will only be possible to launch the TTL version from periscope depth.

The RN's limited stock of Block III missiles has been depleted by the Kosovo and Afghanistan conflicts, while the number of US Navy Block II anti-ship and nuclear warhead-equipped missiles available for conversion is dwindling. The USA in March contracted Raytheon to remanufacture another 476 older missiles to Block III as a stopgap measure until Tactical Tomahawk can be fielded.

Block IV incorporates a datalink for in-flight retargeting, a lower cost Williams F122 turbojet and additional fuel to provide a loitering and battle damage assessment capability using the weapon's digital scene matching area correlation sensor. The USN is funding versions with WDU-36A or kinetic penetrator warheads while Raytheon is considering a submunition-armed version as well as the SCI Lancer penetrator warhead.


Source: Flight International