Air Weapons: July 3, 2004

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The U.S. Navy is buying 2,000 new Tomahawk missiles. About 800 of the older Block III missiles were used in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the navy wants to replace them, and have additional missiles for future operations. The new missiles will be a new model (Block IV) and cost $1.65 million each. The new versions operate more like UAVs, because they will have two way communications and can be controlled by someone on the ground, in a ship or a manned aircraft. These cruise missiles can be assigned new targets after they are launched, or ordered to circle until there is a target available. The more effective onboard electronics mean that the new missiles can be programmed and launched within five minutes. The older models required at least 25 minutes to get their guidance system up to speed and program them with target information. The new model has better and more reliable guidance systems, and is more accurate as well. But at $1.65 million each, these might be the last Tomahawk cruise missiles bought before the arrival of UCAVs (combat UAVs that carry and deliver bombs and missiles, and then return to be used again), and much cheaper cruise missiles for warships.

 


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