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US State Department Approves $895 Million Sale of 220 Tomahawk Missiles to Australia

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US State Department Approves $895 Million Sale of 220 Tomahawk Missiles to Australia

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U.S. Navy Vinson strike group guided missile destroyer USS Chafee (DDG 90) launches a Block V Tomahawk missile off the coast of California.
U.S. Navy Vinson strike group guided missile destroyer USS Chafee (DDG 90) launches a Block V Tomahawk missile off the coast of California.

The U.S. State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Australia of Tomahawk Block V and Block IV All Up Rounds (AUR) and related equipment for an estimated cost of $895 million. The Government of Australia has requested to buy up to two hundred (200) Tomahawk Block V All Up Rounds (AUR) (RGM-109E); and up to twenty (20) Tomahawk Block IV All Up Rounds (AUR) (RGM-109E). Also included is support for all three segments of Australia’s Tomahawk Weapon System (TWS) to include the All Up Round (AUR), the Tactical Tomahawk Weapon Control System (TTWCS) and the Theater Mission Planning Center (TMPC). The prime U.S. contractor will be Raytheon Missiles and Defense, Tucson, AZ.

The support consists of unscheduled missile maintenance; spares; procurement; training; in-service support; software; hardware; communication equipment; operational flight test; engineering and technical expertise to maintain the TWS capability; and other related elements of logistical and program support. Australia is one of U.S. most important allies in the Western Pacific. The strategic location of this political and economic power contributes significantly to ensuring peace and economic stability in the region. By deploying the Tomahawk Weapon System, Australia will contribute to global readiness and enhance the capability of U.S. Forces operating alongside them globally.

Royal Navy HMS Astute fires a Tomahawk at a land target on the range
Royal Navy HMS Astute fires a Tomahawk at a land target on the range. (Photo by Royal Navy/ Crown Copyright)

The Tomahawk Land Attack Missile (TLAM) is a long-range, all-weather, jet-powered, subsonic cruise missile that is primarily used by the U.S. Navy and Royal Navy in ship and submarine-based land-attack operations. For navigation and guidance, the missile uses a combination of inertial, GPS, and terrain-matching that uses an electro-optical sensor and radar altimeter to the terrain over which the missile is passing to an internal terrain database. The Tomahawk Block V is a recertified and modernized missile with upgraded navigation and communications. The Block Va can strike moving targets at sea, while the Block Vb has a multi-effects warhead that can hit diverse land targets. Tomahawk’s most recent use was in 2018 when U.S. Navy surface warships and submarines launched 66 Tomahawk missiles at Syrian chemical weapon facilities.

In September 2021, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that Australia would acquire Tomahawk cruise missiles for the Royal Australian Navy’s Hobart-class air warfare destroyers as part of the AUKUS security pact. The Hobart class is a ship class of three air warfare destroyers (AWDs) built for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). Tomahawk Cruise Missiles would add powerful new long-range land-attack and maritime strike capabilities and bolster Australia’s anti-access/area-denial deterrent ability against potential future opponents like China. The Tomahawk is a key component of the arsenal of U.S. Navy Virginia class submarines and this is very likely to be the case with the future Australian SSN-AUKUS nuclear-powered submarines.

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