Home » Aviation » Navy: Raytheon Tomahawk Likely to Compete in Next Generation Anti-Ship Missile Contest

Navy: Raytheon Tomahawk Likely to Compete in Next Generation Anti-Ship Missile Contest

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

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Raytheon’s Tomahawk Land Attack Missile (TLAM) will be a likely competitor in the Navy’s search for a next generation anti-ship missile to replace the 1980s era weapons widely in use in the service, the deputy chief of naval operations warfare systems (N9) said Wednesday.

Set to start in Fiscal Year 2017, the contest for the Navy’s Offensive Anti-Surface Warfare (OASuW) Increment II seeks to replace the Navy’s decades-old inventory of Boeing RGM-84 Harpoons with more technologically sophisticated weapons.

OASuW Increment I — an ongoing program between DARPA and the Navy — is being developed using the Lockheed Martin Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) to meet an urgent operational need from U.S. Pacific Command.

LRASM is now set to be an air launched weapon, while the next OASuW increment will likely be fired from a Mk 41 Vertical Launch System (VLS) resident on the service’s guided missile destroyers and cruisers. Lockheed has begun early internal testing of LRASM in a vertical launch configuration from a Mk 41.

“OASUW isn’t necessarily LRASM increment two, we want a competition to get the best munition we can,” said N9 Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin during a talk on the future of naval capabilities hosted by Center for Strategic and International Studies and the U.S. Naval Institute.
“Harnessing new technologies, putting some in a Tomahawk and then looking with what we’ve done with LRASM increment one to have that competition between OASuW [I] and the Tomahawk.”

An artist's concept of a Lockheed Martin LRASM fired from a U.S. Navy VLS tube. Lockheed Martin image.

An artist’s concept of a Lockheed Martin LRASM fired from a U.S. Navy VLS tube. Lockheed Martin image.

In addition to LRASM and Block IV Tomahawks, Kongsberg’s Naval Strike Missile — set to compete for the Navy’s over the horizon (OTH) missile for the Littoral Combat Ship as part of a teaming arrangement with Raytheon — has been mentioned as a competitor for the OASuW II program.

Tomahawk Test

Tomahawk BLK IV cruise missile. US Navy Photo

Tomahawk BLK IV cruise missile. US Navy Photo

Unlike its predecessors, the Block IV TLAM can have its flight path updated on the go via data links and is capable of hitting moving targets.

Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) conducted a successful test of the missile against a moving maritime target in January to prove the Block IV TLAM variant could handle the task.

Early reviews of the test were positive.

In February Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work said modifying the Block IV test proved “potentially a game changing capability for not a lot of cost. It’s a 1000 mile anti-ship cruise missile.”

Following the test, USNI News understands the Navy was examining the Block IV as an anti-surface missile gap-filler until the new OASuWs came online.

While Aucoin acknowledged the success of the anti-surface test, he said the current crop of Tomahawks may better serve in their land attack role.

“There was was a test done and it did hit a platform. There is [an anti-surface] capability there but Block IV has done very well over land and we want to enhance its capability,” Aucoin said.

The Navy and Raytheon are set to overhaul existing TLAMs in the inventory through a recertification process that will add another 15 year life to older weapons, announced in January.

“We’re going to stand up a recertification line and we’re going to leverage new technologies, warhead, command and control, data links and make sure Tomahawk is a very viable weapon in the future,” Aucoin said.
“The Tomahawk is doing very well and the [recertification line] will not only extend its life but give it additional capability. Incrementally will enable us to put in [enough] capability so the next generation strike weapon isn’t such a big jump.”

Raytheon has said it’s worked on internal research and development efforts for new TLAM that could be inserted in the older weapons as part of the recertification.

While OASuW II is set to enter the fleet in the 2020s — based on the Navy’s current TLAM tack Aucoin outlined — the surface Navy will likely still rely on the decades old Harpoon without a Tomahawk to bridge the gap.

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Categories: Aviation, Budget Industry, News & Analysis, Surface Forces, U.S. Navy
Sam LaGrone

About Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone is the editor of USNI News. He was formerly the U.S. Maritime Correspondent for the Washington D.C. bureau of Jane’s Defence Weekly and Jane’s Navy International. He has covered legislation, acquisition and operations for the Sea Services and spent time underway with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the Canadian Navy.

  • sferrin

    I was hoping they were going to go for something useful. The Tomahawk has absolutely nothing to recommend it. Sure, it’s cheap, but if you have to fire off 20 of them in hopes one actually makes it through an enemy fleets defenses, what’s the point? Even Saddam was shooting these things down with AAA a quarter of a century ago. And they think this will have a prayer against a modern fleet defense setup? Pass the bong this way please.

    • Koverpd

      For an anti-ship missile the size of a Tomahawk, it will have to be at least supersonic to stay competitive. I don’t see how Raytheon can do that in time.

      • @NotRizzo

        Supersonic doesn’t directly equate with survivability and significantly reduces range. The benefit of the Tomahawk is the tremendous range, the ability of Subs or surface ship to reach out and hit a ship off the coast of taiwan from only ~500m from Guam is a huge advantage.
        Also, since Chinese (and Russian) surface groups lack indigenous AEW assets their reaction time to a subsonic sea-skimmer is going to be fatally short. Having any hope of shooting them down will also require the enemy keep their radars up 24/7, making tracking (and thus targetting) much easier.

      • Vijay Mehra

        you cant have range and be supersonic

  • 2IDSGT

    Still don’t see what’s wrong with buying both.

    • Rob C.

      Cost mainly. T-hawks are cheaper. I don’t think highly of them. Using try and true isn’t necessary a good thing when enemy knows what they can do too.

  • James Bowen

    Not nearly good enough. We need something like the SS(N)-19 Shipwreck.

  • Secundius

    For “Century’s” Naval Power’s have been using Naval Artillery to Sink Ship, I Haven’t seen anything in the Companies Literature that the LRLAP can’t Do It Either or use it in the “AA” Role As Well…

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  • Ronsoppinion

    An Anti-ship missile can only do the job if it’s extremely fast, if the Tomahawk’s speed can be increased substantially it might be O.K, in the Falklands War the Exocet that sank British ships were at speeds of Mach 0.92, the Tomahawk would have to match this, one thing in the Tomahawk’s favor is it’s range 1000 Miles or more.

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  • Kruno

    Oh come on…. We need a modern supersonic (maybe even hypersonic missile) for our future ASW missile. If LRASM,Tomahawk No 2 or even Naval strike missile becomes that next gen ASW weapon then we’ll have the subsonic missile for anti ship role for the next 20-30 years. In the mean time Russia is developing their new anti ship missile called Zircon which is thought to be operational on the refurbished Kirov class battlecruiser in 2020-2022.. And guess what? Oh yes, Zircon will be a hypersonic anti ship missile. We can forget about defending our CSGs with SM family of missiles against that. Unless we develop operational 300-500 kW laser for defending our capital ships by then our Navy will for the first time in history have absolutely no way of defending themselves from an adversary’s offensive weapon. That’s pathetic.