PATUXENT RIVER, Md. (NNS) -- Two successful test launches of U.S. Navy Tomahawk cruise missiles were conducted in late May from USS Columbus (SSN 762), a Los Angeles-class attack submarine underway in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Southern California.
In the first test event, the (inert) Block III missile flew a fully guided 575-nautical mile flight at the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) Pacific test range. Seconds after launch from the submarine's torpedo tube launch system, the Tomahawk missile transitioned to cruise flight, utilizing global positioning satellite navigation to a target impact site on the NAVAIR land range.
In the second test event, the (inert) Block III missile ejected from the vertical launch system and flew a fully guided 520-mile flight onto the same range complex. This second flight also utilized global positioning satellite navigation to a target impact site on the same range. Additionally, this particular mission was planned aboard the launch platform.
Both tests were part of the Tactical Tomahawk Weapons Control System (TTWCS) operational evaluation process. TTWCS will allow increased flexibility of the Tactical Tomahawk missile and launch platform mission planning. Additionally, the TTWCS software will reduce the operator's workload and decrease the time required to prepare and launch the missile. This system was successfully demonstrated last Fall from a surface ship, USS Stethem (DDG 63).
This week's tests marked the first such demonstration for an attack submarine. The Tactical Tomahawk weapons system will be delivered to the fleet in the spring of 2004.
Tomahawk missiles are deployed throughout the world's oceans on numerous surface ships and submarines, including Aegis-class cruisers, guided-missile destroyers, and Seawolf and Los Angeles-class submarines.
As in all Tomahawk flight tests, air route safety was carefully planned in coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration. For safety purposes, the Tomahawk could have been guided by commands from safety chase aircraft.
The Tomahawk program is managed by the Program Executive Office, Strike Weapons and Unmanned Aviation co-located at the NAVAIR complex in Patuxent River, Md. The missile is manufactured by Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, Ariz. Tomahawk is a registered trademark of the United States Navy.
NAVAIR provides advanced warfare technology through the efforts of a seamless, integrated, worldwide network of aviation technology experts.
For related news, visit the NAVAIR - Naval Air Systems Command Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/navair.