Tomahawk missiles used in Syria are long-favored weapon of choice

The U.S. Navy used the latest variation of the Tomahawk, which allows the missile to be reprogrammed mid-flight, in addition to having improved time-of-arrival and navigation controls developed in the last three decades.
By Ryan Maass   |   Updated April 7, 2017 at 1:33 PM

April 7 (UPI) -- The U.S. Navy launched dozens of the long-favored Tomahawk cruise missile into Syria on Thursday night, employing a weapon that has been one of the most-used missiles since their introduction nearly 30 years ago during Operation Desert Storm.

Footage released by the U.S. Navy shows Tomahawks being launched from the USS Ross, which targeted chemical weapons assets in Syria after U.S. President Donald Trump and other world leaders linked a sarin gas attack in the country to Bashar al-Assad's regime. A total of 59 Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles were fired into the region.

The Tomahawk is a long-range, all-weather subsonic cruise missile initially developed by General Dynamics and currently built by Raytheon.

The missiles were first used in Operation Desert Storm in 1991, and have since been used in several other conflicts, including actions in Iraq, Serbia, Montenegro and the second Gulf War. Since 1995, the weapon has also been sold to and used by British naval forces in combat.

The missiles are capable of carrying either conventional or nuclear payloads. Block III Tomahawk cruise missiles feature enhanced engines and insensitive extended range warheads, affording operators improved time-of-arrival control and navigation capabilities.

Block IV, the latest variant, uses two-way satellite communications to reprogram the weapon in-flight.

Tomahawk missiles remain a high-valued asset for the Navy. In December 2016, the branch inked a $303.7 million deal with Raytheon for the delivery of an additional 214 of the missiles. The deal also included foreign military sales to Britain.

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