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2,000 Tomahawks Fired in Anger

by John Reed on August 4, 2011

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.

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{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

hoorah August 4, 2011 at 11:27 am

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


Lance_HBomb August 4, 2011 at 11:41 am

Making a joke like that must make you feel so smart now, huh?


ProjectThor August 4, 2011 at 1:05 pm

Considering it's a Demotard giving the "ok" to get involved in it…


passingby March 15, 2012 at 4:34 pm

It's about stealing / robbing Libya's OIL, gold, and land. Yes.


John Moore August 4, 2011 at 11:39 am

"venerable Tomahawk cruise missile" Why is that?


TLAM Strike August 4, 2011 at 12:02 pm

Accorded a great deal of respect, esp. because of age, wisdom, or character.

The basic Tomahawk is almost 30 years old, quite old for a missile system. Alternatively its a capable one and given respect by friend and foe alike.


Nancy Yockey Bonar March 15, 2012 at 4:01 pm

Great comment. See my today post.


passingby March 15, 2012 at 4:20 pm

The US is NOT using the so-called basic Tomahawk. There have been many changes. It's accorded a great deal of respect only by US media. A significant percentage of Tomahawk missiles failed to reach their targets during the invasion of Iraq. We all know how good Iraq was in missile defenses.


Nancy Yockey Bonar March 15, 2012 at 4:01 pm

Tomahawk — non-nuclear (can be armed as nuclear) unmanned guided missile — is at the point of our military's spears. Fired from U.S. and RN surface ships and submarines, Tomahawks strike enemy communications networks before soldiers land, thus, saving lives of allied military personnel. As for Libya and the UN-sponsored action and General Gaddafi — do your research. He and his army were killing those protesting his dictatorial regime; those seeking freedom asked the UN/SC to intervene. So — for those who're on here disputing the intervention — at what point should military action be taken when those yearning to be free are being slaughtered?

Saddam, who make no bones about publicly saying he had weapons of destruction –had massecured and buried in mass graves thousands upon thousands of Iraqi civilians, primarily Kurds. Was this OK?

FYI: My late brother was the Tomahawk program manager (#2 to Read Admiral Locke) in testing/development/successful launch of the Tomahawk. He was also a former submarine commander.


Jayson August 4, 2011 at 11:50 am

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


Jayson August 4, 2011 at 11:57 am

I nominate the 2000th with Ghadafi's name on it.


Matrix_3692 August 5, 2011 at 10:50 am

convert the main gun to fire hypersonic guided missiles?


jemc50 August 4, 2011 at 2:09 pm

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.


blight August 4, 2011 at 4:33 pm

Congress is only able to agree on pay raises for Congressmen, which luckily cannot take effect the same term (if it weren't for that amendment, we'd be hosed…)


Nancy Mercurio August 5, 2011 at 11:27 am

Ummm think we have been hosed :-(


Jayson August 5, 2011 at 1:35 pm

It's a UN led action, not a US led action unlike Iraq/Afghanistan. The US are just doing their part and supply their allies.


jemc50 August 5, 2011 at 1:47 pm

Makes no difference. The UN is not subject to the US Constitution, but the President is subject to it and needs to obtain approval from Congress.


Jay August 5, 2011 at 3:46 pm

That can't be right.

Obama said our involvement in Libya would last for "days" or "weeks". Since it has been many months since Obama said that, we must not be involved in the hostilities in Libya.

Who do you trust, Obama or your own lying eyes?


Lance August 4, 2011 at 3:37 pm

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 August 4, 2011 at 4:52 pm

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 :)


OMEGATALON August 4, 2011 at 4:58 pm

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 August 4, 2011 at 6:20 pm

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.


passingby March 15, 2012 at 4:31 pm

BS. It's illegal invasion and flagrant abuse of UN authority. The agenda should have been obvious now to even the most casual observer – the US and its lapdog criminal cohorts UK, France and Israel had wanted to murder Qaddhafi, restore petro-dollar regime, and seize Libya's oil fields and gold reserves.

The US (its politicians and corporate owners) doesn't give a damn about "democracy", "freedom", "human rights" … Wake up. When has the US ever been a "democracy" in the real sense of the word??? It wasn't even founded as a democracy!!


Allen S. August 4, 2011 at 6:48 pm

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 August 4, 2011 at 6:53 pm

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 August 5, 2011 at 12:41 am

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 August 5, 2011 at 8:17 am

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 August 5, 2011 at 8:18 am
Matt August 5, 2011 at 12:26 am

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 August 5, 2011 at 12:36 am

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 August 5, 2011 at 10:36 am

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 August 5, 2011 at 1:39 pm

UN led operation. Other nations are participating.


Jay August 5, 2011 at 3:49 pm

who is paying?


Old Navy 446 August 5, 2011 at 11:20 am

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


tiger August 5, 2011 at 11:52 am

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


Jay August 5, 2011 at 3:51 pm

hand it to the man, in his first 2 years Obama has
- authorized more drone strikes
- sent more troops to AfPak
- spent more money
- played more golf
Than Bush did in 8 years. Hard record to beat and he beat it with years to spare!


slaykiller August 8, 2011 at 9:48 am

why is that so true…….


giantslor August 11, 2011 at 12:03 pm

If you want to make an omelet, you gotta break a few eggs.


passingby March 15, 2012 at 4:22 pm

Obama is a hypocrite and a puppet. The Nobel Peace prize is a joke.


Robertro2 August 5, 2011 at 2:36 pm



mike August 8, 2011 at 9:02 am

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 August 8, 2011 at 9:26 am

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 August 8, 2011 at 6:06 pm

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 March 15, 2012 at 4:14 pm

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.


tiger March 15, 2012 at 4:42 pm

They already have tomahawks. No need remove the guns. For many targets, guns are cheaper. Sadly the crew costs & fuels needs make the Iowa's not likely to go to sea again.


Tiger August 5, 2011 at 11:50 am

John, I’m Black & I can tell you Sir Teleprompter was clueless even before 2008. If GWB did half the things Jimmy Carter II did, he would have shoes thrown at ever press event. When your approval rating is 40%, you are way beyond how dark is your tan.


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