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A Tomahawk That Can Hunt You Down
by James Dunnigan
May 27, 2009

The latest version of U.S. Tomahawk (BGM-109 Block 4) missile, is getting upgraded so that it can hit moving targets. This is mainly intended to turn the Tomahawk into an anti-ship missile, although it can also hit moving land targets. Currently, the Block 4 costs about $1.7 million each, weighs 1.4 tons, has a range of 1,500 kilometers and carries a half ton warhead. It moves to its target at a speed of 880 kilometers an hour. Since production began four years ago, 1,300 have been made since. The Tomahawk was introduced 26 years ago, and over 6,000 have been manufactured. The U.S. Navy has fired over 1,900 in combat and training.

The United States is developing a successor to the Tomahawk cruise missile, that will be heavier (2.2 tons, versus 1.4 tons), have a longer range (2,000 kilometers versus 1,500) and a one ton warhead (twice the size of the Tomahawks.) The new missile will be stealthier, and use a combination of guidance and targeting systems (to improve the chances of success). Price will probably be the key factor in whether this new missile ever enters service. The new Cruise Missile XR (for Extended Range) will probably cost twice that, or more. The cruise missile, when it showed up in the 1980s, was one of the first UAVs, it just wasn't reusable. But UAVs that carry bombs and missiles, and can be reused, are going to provide competition for a new, $3 million, Cruise Missile XR.

 


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