IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


22nd August, 2023 Security

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  • Australia will buy more than 200 Tomahawk Cruise Missiles for its navy under a $1.3 billion investment, as concerns mount over China’s military presence in the Indo-Pacific.


  • The Tomahawk is an intermediate-range, subsonic cruise missile that is launched from U.S. Navy ships and submarines.
  • It provides a long-range, deep strike capability. The Tomahawk can carry either conventional or nuclear payloads, though policy decisions have phased out their nuclear role.

Tomahawk Design Features

  • The Tomahawk is designed to operate at very low altitudes while maintaining high-subsonic speeds. Its modular design enables the integration of numerous types of warheads, guidance and control systems.
  • “The Tomahawk is a long-range, all-weather, subsonic cruise missile.”
  • The missile carries a nuclear or conventional payload. It can be armed with a nuclear or unitary warhead or a conventional submunitions dispenser with combined-effect bomblets.
  • The missile has a 5.56m length, 51.8cm diameter and a 2.67m wingspan. The weight of the missile is 1,315kg. It has a life span of 30 years.

Guidance and control

  • The Tomahawk Block IV uses GPS navigation and a satellite data-link to continue through a pre-set course. The missile can be reprogrammed in-flight to a new target.
  • The Two-way satellite communications are used to perform post-launch mission changes throughout the flight. The on-board camera provides imagery of the target to the commanders before the strike.
  • The guidance system is assisted by Terrain Contour Matching (TERCOM). The GPS provides terminal guidance.
  • The Tactical Tomahawk Weapons Control System (TTWCS) integrated within the ship’s systems computes the path to engage targets. The system enables the planning of new missions on board the launch vessel. TTWCS is also used to communicate with multiple missiles for reassigning the targets and redirecting the missiles in flight.
  • The Block IV Tomahawk missile is outfitted with Advanced Electronic Support Measure (ESM) seeker in Block IV Tomahawk missile. Its joint multi-effects warhead enables the commander to control the blast.


  • The Tomahawk Block IV missile is powered by a Williams International F415 cruise turbo-fan engine and ARC MK 135 rocket motor. The propulsion provides a subsonic speed of 880km/h.


Terrain contour matching, or TERCOM, is a navigation system used primarily by cruise missiles. It uses a contour map of the terrain that is compared with measurements made during flight by an on-board radar altimeter. A TERCOM system considerably increases the accuracy of a missile compared with inertial navigation systems (INS). The increased accuracy allows a TERCOM-equipped missile to fly closer to obstacles and at generally lower altitudes, making it harder to detect by ground radar.


In military telecommunications, electronic support (ES) or electronic support measures (ESM) gather intelligence through passive "listening" to electromagnetic radiations of military interest. They are an aspect of electronic warfare involving actions taken under direct control of an operational commander to detect, intercept, identify, locate, record, and/or analyze sources of radiated electromagnetic energy for the purposes of immediate threat recognition (such as warning that fire control radar has locked on a combat vehicle, ship, or aircraft) or longer-term operational planning. Thus, electronic support provides a source of information required for decisions involving electronic protection (EP), electronic attack (EA), avoidance, targeting, and other tactical employment of forces.

MUST WATCH VIDEO: https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&url=https%3A%2F%2Fm.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DqjVIupG1XGQ&psig=AOvVaw1dtM8ywa0sZ8Rwieo78Rm8&ust=1692768809281000&source=images&cd=vfe&opi=89978449&ved=2ahUKEwiJj-Stxe-AAxXf2zgGHehTDuEQr4kDegQIARB4

MUST READ ARTICLE: BASICS OF MISSILES: https://www.iasgyan.in/blogs/the-basics-of-missiles


Q. Consider the following statements with reference to Tomahawk Missile:

1.Tomahawk is an intermediate-range, subsonic cruise missile that is launched from U.S. Navy ships and submarines.

2.The Tomahawk is designed to operate at very low altitudes.

3.The missile can carry both a nuclear and a conventional payload.

How many of the above are correctly matched?

A) Only 1

B) Only 2

C) All 3

D) None

Answer: C) All 3