The U.S. Navy test-fired its new Block V Tomahawk from the destroyer Chafee in December, introducing the newest generation of the venerable Tomahawk cruise missile to its arsenal.
The modifications are designed to bring the sub-sonic cruise missile into the era of great power competition. Why is this Tomahawk different from all other Tomahawks, and can this old Cold Warrior keep up in the era of hypersonic missiles?
1. Increased capabilities. Raytheon’s Tomahawk Block V, when fully realized in its Block Va and Block Vb varieties, will be expected to hit surface ships at Tomahawk ranges – in excess of 1,000 miles – with the integration of a new seeker. It also will integrate a new warhead that will have a broader range of capabilities, including greater penetrating power.
Tomahawk’s range is especially important in the Asia-Pacific, where China’s rocket force has extraordinary reach with its DF-26 and DF-21 missiles, with ranges of 2,490 and 1,335 miles respectively, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The missiles are destined not just for the VLS launchers of surface ships but also on attack submarines.