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.