2,000 Tomahawks Fired in Anger

So on Aug. 5 the Navy is going officially celebrate the 2,000th combat launch of the venerable Tomahawk cruise missile. The actual launch happened aboard the destroyer USS Barry off the coast of Libya on March 19 as part of Operation Odyssey Dawn aimed at taking out Gadhafi. The missile was one of more than 200 Tomahawks the Navy has fired to date in operations against Gadhafi, according to Navy spokeswoman Jamie Cosgrove.

As many of you know, the Tomahawk has been around for decades. The latest version — dubbed the Tactical Tomahawk Land Attack Missile, Block IV — uses internal GPS, a video camera and a satellite data-link to allow commanders to reroute the weapon in-flight; allowing it to take pictures of potential targets, change targets and even hit moving ones. The missiles fly low-to-the ground at nearly the speed of sound for up to 900-miles to reach their targets.

More than 140 Navy ships can fire the missiles from Aegis radar-equipped DDG-51 class destroyers and Ticonderoga class cruisers to attack submarines and the newly converted fleet of four ex-Ohio class ballistic missile subs, now known as SSGNs, that carry cruise missiles and special operators. One of these reconfigured subs, the USS Florida, was the first SSGN to fire a cruise missile in anger when it participated in the operations against Gadhafi in March.

At roughly $607,000 apiece (in FY-99 dollars) according to a factsheet sent by Cosgrove, the Navy has fired off more than $121,400,000 worth of cruise missiles with the 200-plus TLAM strikes in Libya.

The Royal Navy’s submarine force is the world’s only other Tomahawk user.

Here’s some famous footage of the World War II battleship USS Missouri firing Tomahawks at Iraqi forces some 20-years ago during Operation Desert Storm.

  • hoorah

    O-peration I-ndependent L-ibya… woohoo!

  • John Moore

    “venerable Tomahawk cruise missile” Why is that?

  • Jayson

    Missouri needs more action than being being mothballed. It’s a great ship.

  • jemc50

    Just and observation. Firing cruise missiles into Libya seems to indicate that there are some hostilities occurring in Libya. Therefore, the President should have obtained Congress’ approval under the War Powers Act and the Constitution.

  • Lance

    ALL the missiles and airstrikes and Qaddafi is still in power in Tripoli. Waste of time and money this op was in the first place.

    • jhm

      well what did u expect, a dictator whose been around for years to flee at the sight of some airstrikes and cruise missile strikes? I think in the mid to late 80’s we struck back at him too. It probably strengthened his resolve to stay put. I hope those rebels get the refineries up at full strength so they can buy weapons better suited against that mad man with weird clothes :)


    In a way, the Tomahawk cruise missile is the world’s first UCAV as you can fly these things as a first strike over hostile territory even dangerous for a stealth fighter and because these are computer controlled, there no human pilot to put at risk and it’s reason why 2,000 have been used by the US military.

  • bigRick

    Libya is not a WAR, it’s not a CONFLICT, it’s not even HOSTILITIES,

    this is a POLICE ACTION, according to the guy in the WH, hence no need to get war powers act approval, no need to talk to Congress, no need to explain to the American people why we just spent $121 MILLION dollars on cruise missiles alone, no need to explain anything to anyone because he is the prez and he can do anything he wants, he is SUPER CZAR, among many czars.

  • Allen S.

    Typical BS, we are not even fighting a conflict in contested skies, so why in the hell or we wasting money on a T-LAM strike when a much cheaper JDAM would suffice???

    • bigRick

      good question, maybe the guy in the WH is trying to deplete our T-LAM inventory to make the Chinese happy.

      I haven’t heard a word anywhere about “replacing” the spent (wasted) missiles

      • blight

        All I know is that the UK is taking delivery of Tomahawks, which would suggest reopening the line. Other than that, no idea if we are still buying missiles.

        However, I found this gem:

        If I read page N-11 right, then we’ve been requesting 196 Tomahawks/year?

      • blight

        All I know is that the UK is taking delivery of Tomahawks, which would suggest reopening the line if closed. And according to Raytheon, their line is still open. I imagine the United States is still buying.

        We need to bring back GLCM, with conventional warheads while we’re at it.

      • blight2
    • Matt

      They were fired when Gadaffie still had his AAA and SAM. USA fighters could easly get passed them, but if they didn’t (due to either mechanical or human error) the PR disaster would be horrible and more importantly pilots could lose their lives…

    • blight

      JDAMs mean putting an aircraft over the target and risking a shootdown.
      As far as I can tell, the first Tomahawks were the nuclear armed versions, and the conventionals came later. If we had conventionals for El Dorado Canyon, we probably would have used them, and not lost a F-111 + crew.

      The F-111 in ’70s dollars was 10 mil apiece. Tomahawk cost in ’99 was 600k.

      El Dorado canyon ended in the loss of one aircraft and two pilots, out of 45 (21 Intruders, 18 F-111s, 6 Hornets) aircraft dropping 300 bombs and firing a mix of HARM and Shrike missiles. It’s telling that 227+5/300 bombs were actually deployed at their targets (and a credit that only five missed, even in the era of dumb bombs). What’s more telling is that the rest were aborts.

      Of those bombs, ~72 went to Wheelus and more than that to a different airfield. Wheelus required six aircraft with a maximum load of 72 bombs (and an actual five aircraft dropping sixty bombs) to do the job. Can it be done with less cruise missiles and at no loss in aircrews?

      There is a time and place for strike aircraft. If a missile can do a job that a pilot might likely die for, why send the pilot and an expensive aircraft? It’s logic that “takes the fun out of” war, but war was meant to be won with a minimum of losses to hard-to-train personnel.

  • Tom

    Just what is going on in Libya? Let’s dump another $121 Million (not to mention all the other aircraft and ships involved) into this farce

    • Jayson

      UN led operation. Other nations are participating.

  • Old Navy 446

    What’s up with DDG-51 Class? We don’t say Arleigh Burke any more?

  • tiger

    For a guy with a Nobel peace prize, Obama does seem to kill allot of people around the world.

  • Robertro2


  • mike

    Only way this nut president would win reelction would be to end both wars (and the police action in Libya), bring EVERYONE home NOW, announce there is NO
    strategic interestes in those friggin’ countries, and get the budget under control.
    ONLY way he has a snow ball’s chance in hades. Concentrate job growth programs
    on those domestic issues at home that need fixing. Realign the military from overseas to the Mexican and Canadian border.

  • Old Artillerly Guy

    Another classic waste at $1.2 Million apiece…whatever the strategic value of Libya to the US might be its not worth a single dollar let alone US lives.

  • silver

    Folks, study your scripture, especially Ezekiel and Revelation, this is the setup for the end times. Get ready for it boys, you have about 18 months left, maybe.

  • Mike

    Missouri class battleships and cruise missiles. Why doesn’t the Navy remove the 18″ guns and turn them into missile carrying ships. I imagine they would be able to carry more missile than the boomers. They can even change out some of the 5″ guns for the new gun rail system in development.