Home » Aviation » WEST: Bob Work Calls Navy’s Anti-Surface Tomahawk Test ‘Game Changing’


WEST: Bob Work Calls Navy’s Anti-Surface Tomahawk Test ‘Game Changing’

Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work on May 7, 2014 . DoD Photo

Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work on May 7, 2014 . DoD Photo

- The Pentagon’s number two civilian praised a January test of Raytheon Tomahawk missile that successfully struck a moving maritime target calling it a “game changing capability.”

Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work used the test of the Block IV Tomahawk as an example of quickly adapting existing technology in new ways of an example of the defense innovation in line with the pursuit of the Pentagon’s Third Offset Strategy.

“A big part of the Third Offset Strategies is to find new and innovative ways to deploy promising technologies,” Work said during a keynote speech at the WEST 2015 conference.
“This is potentially a game changing capability for not a lot of cost. It’s a 1000 mile anti-ship cruise missile.”

The benefits of using the Tomahawk as an anti-ship missile include the ability for the weapon to be used on a variety of U.S. Navy platforms.

A Tomahawk cruise missile hits a moving maritime target Jan. 27 after being launched from the USS Kidd (DDG-100) near San Nicolas Island in California. US Navy Photo

A Tomahawk cruise missile hits a moving maritime target Jan. 27 after being launched from the USS Kidd (DDG-100) near San Nicolas Island in California. US Navy Photo

“It’s a 1000 mile anti-ship cruise missile,” he said.
“It can be used by practically by our entire surface and submarine fleet.”

In the test, a Block IV fired from USS Kidd (DDG-100) struck a moving maritime target while being guided by a F/A-18 Super Hornet that issued instructions to the missile mid-flight.

The Tomahawk test is also in line with U.S. surface forces new, “distributed lethality” concept to put more offensive power on U.S. surface ships.

“[U.S. Surface Forces commander Vice Adm.] Tom Rowden talks about having distributed lethality in the fleet and this is exactly the way we can go about doing it,” Work said.

In January, U.S. director of surface warfare said modifying existing weapon systems would be a component of the distributed lethality concept.

“I go take a seeker – if that’s my problem – and I glue it on the front end of an existing missile. If it doesn’t go far enough, I put a new backend on it. If someone around the world is already flying it, I go buy it,” Rear Adm. Peter Fanta said in January.

Work said the addition of a new seeker on the Tomahawk could preclude the need to develop a new high power anti-ship missile (ASM) – considered an urgent need by U.S. forces in U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM).

“What happens if we take another step and just make an advanced seeker on the Tomahawk, rather than building a new missile?” Work said.
“We believe if we make decisions like that that we will be able to out turn potential adversaries and maintain our technological superiority.”

The Navy is currently testing a next generation ASM, the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM).

Early iterations of the Tomahawk included an anti-ship variant – the Tomahawk Anti-Ship Missile (TASM). However most of the missiles were taken out of the Navy inventory in the early 1990s.

Currently, the Navy’s ASM is the RGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missile – a decades old anti-ship missile – has thought to have been eclipsed in range and sophistication by weapons developed internationally, USNI News understands.

  • ““What happens if we take another step and just make an advanced seeker
    on the Tomahawk, rather than building a new missile?” Work said.”

    Then you end up with a bunch of huge, expensive, 1000 mile range, non-stealthy anti-ship missiles that can be and will be blown out of the sky by advanced air defenses. Just before return volleys of more advanced anti-ship missiles put your ships on the bottom.

    But you’ll have saved a couple of bucks by ignoring the technical reality of the other side. Yay, you.

    Flexibility makes for an excellent force supplement, and these capabilities have uses in land attack as well. Tomahawk upgrades should happen. What they aren’t, is a substitute that can address the core tactical problem. You need a more advanced missile with better survivability against advanced defenses for that.

    • 2IDSGT

      Agreed… why does the article assume that we can’t we have both this *and* LRASM?

      • It’s important to remember that the dynamic is much different for the USN compared to it’s near-pear opponents, a 1k mile range ASCM only works if you can provide the mid-course and terminal targetting info. The USN can do that, China & Russia would have much tougher time safely keeping a CBG under ISR. Also, though the Tomahawk (and Harpoon) are far from the ideal ASCM for attacking heavily defended ships, the USN has the capability to project jamming as well as ISR in a way no opponent can.

    • Jon

      “Flexibility makes for an excellent force supplement, and these capabilities have uses in land attack as well. Tomahawk upgrades should happen. What they aren’t, is a substitute that can address the core tactical problem. You need a more advanced missile with better survivability against advanced defenses for that.”

      ^This. QFT.

    • Secundius

      @ Joe Katzman.

      If you take a Weapons System out of play, just because it to expensive to use. Then it’s no longer a Weapons System, you have a Expensive Paperweight…

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  • Ctrot

    “Game changing” is really over selling what is just an incremental increase in anti-ship capability.

  • It’s certainly better than “the aging Harpoon,” but if another nation built it, I’ll bet we’d say that the defensive systems we have can handle it – no problem. We might try asking the Russians how THEY build survivable anti ship missiles. Just a thought, not a sermon.

    • What constitutes a survivable anti-ship missile may depend greatly on your perspective. If a Chinese floatilla can shoot down 75% of incoming Harpoons they’d probably consider themselves lucky, except that when facing a barrage of 100+ from a CGB alpha strike you’d still be dead (especially since they’d be back for a return visit 4-5 hours later).

      • Mmm Bee

        No more nukes…no more nukes…no more nukes

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  • sferrin

    Is this guy near the end of his run? (I hope.)

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  • Secundius

    That’s stupid, idiotic statement, “Anti-Surface”. Every ASM or SSM, is by definition “Anti-Surface”. It’s what on the the surface that counts…

  • Jon

    How very North Korean-ish. Verging up Iranian levels of propaganda.

    But what do you expect, after putting a Naval Strike box launcher on the helo deck of an LCS, firing it off with a laptop…and calling it a successful test of the LCS’s capability to mount ASCMs…

  • Secundius

    Define the word “Surface”, because literally “Everything” has a surface…

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  • Anthony Costa

    What the Navy needs is a long-range, hypersonic, high explosive missile that can be fired by UAVs using swarm tactics. This is the future of warfare. Subsonic weapons aren’t going to cut it.

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