NAVAIR press release
These first Block V missiles are from the existing Tomahawk Block IV inventory, and have been recertified and modernized for fleet use.
“This is the next big advancement in Tomahawk capability, and a major achievement for the program. We’re focused now on delivering advanced capability to the fleet by recertifying and modernizing our Block IV inventory, and by contracting production Block V missiles.”
Capt. Red, program manager for the Tomahawk Weapons System program (PMA-280)
Red spoke at a virtual ceremony March 25 to commemorate the event along with industry leaders. He noted over the last four decades the program has continued to upgrade Tomahawk’s capability and this marked the collaboration between Raytheon, supply chains, field activities and the program office.
Raytheon is conducting the mid-life recertification process at its Camden, Arkansas facility. The process replaces life-limited components in Block IV missiles to enable their remaining 15 years of service life, and provides the opportunity for the missiles to receive Block V modernizations. All Block IV missiles will undergo recertification and modernization.
Block V Tomahawk missiles feature a NAV/COMMs upgrade that maintains the capability for In-Flight Target Updates and Improved Navigation. Future Block V capabilities will add to the NAV/COMMs upgrade and include the Maritime Strike Tomahawk (MST) variant, designated as Block Va; and the Joint Multiple Effects Warhead System (JMEWS), designated as Block Vb.
Naval News comments:
U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Chafee (DDG 90) was the first to launch and operationally test a Block V Tomahawk cruise missile in December 2020.
All Tomahawk Block IVs are being upgraded to Block V with longer range and dynamic targeting with the capability to hit vessels at sea (maritime strike role). Raytheon is recertifying and modernizing the missile, extending its service life by 15 years, and resulting in the new Tomahawk Block V series:
- Block V: A modernized TACTOM with upgraded navigation and communication
- Block Va: Block V that can strike moving targets at sea
- Block Vb:Block V, with a joint multi-effects warhead that can hit more diverse land targets
The Tomahawk IV – known in the Royal Navy as TLAM (Tomahawk Land Attack Cruise Missile) – allows submarines and surface vessels to strike at ground targets hundreds of miles inland with pinpoint accuracy. Tomahawk IV has a longer range than its predecessors (well in excess of 1,000 miles), can be directed at a new target in mid-flight, and can also beam back images of the battlefield to its mother submarine.
According to Raytheon, U.S. and allied militaries have flight-tested the GPS-enabled Tomahawk 550 times and used it in combat more than 2,300 times. Its most recent use came in 2018, when U.S. Navy warships and submarines launched 66 Tomahawk missiles at Syrian chemical weapon facilities.