Over the past 30 years, Tomahawk cruise missiles have been used approximately 2300 times in combat and flight-tested more than 700 times. (Photo courtesy of Raytheon)
To perform precision strikes, the military typically turns to Tomahawk Block missiles to carry out the mission. The highly accurate, GPS-enabled precision weapon can change targets at a moment’s notice, even in harsh environments. The latest iteration is the Tomahawk Block IV cruise missile. The new Block IV design, initiated in an effort to save cost and improve functionality, includes a two-way satellite data-link that makes it possible to retarget while in flight.
The Block IV recently underwent captive flight testing to demonstrate an advanced, next-generation, multi-function processor. The processor enables the missile to navigate and track moving targets using radio-frequency signals.
The test equipped the Tomahawk’s nosecone with passive antennas and the new modular processor. Fitted to a T-39 aircraft that simulated a normal flight regime, the passive seeker and processor successfully received numerous electronic signals from tactical targets in a complex, high-density electromagnetic environment.
Watch a video from Raytheon on Tomahawk’s maritime interdiction below:
Next year, Raytheon plans to test the processor with an active seeker. The proposed event will demonstrate the processor’s ability to broadcast active radar as well as passively receive electromagnetic information—a critical component in enabling the missile to strike moving targets on land and at sea.
Today’s network-enabled Tomahawks allow controllers from across the globe to use almost any sensor to guide it to a target. The ability to multi-task—sending back pictures while doing reconnaissance—is especially critical while carrying a 1000-lb warhead.