The Tomahawk IV – known in the Royal Navy as TLAM (Tomahawk Land Attack Cruise Missile) – allows submarines to strike at ground targets hundreds of miles inland with pinpoint accuracy.
The missile has been in use with the Submarine Service since the late 1990s and has been used in anger in the Kosovo conflict and, more recently, in the campaigns against the Taleban and Saddam Hussein, chiefly against important targets which otherwise might seem relatively invulnerable. It is fired from a boat’s torpedo tubes. Once it reaches the surface, a booster rocket ignites to propel the missile skywards. Tomahawk then heads for its target at around 550mph, delivering a 1,000lb explosive warhead.
Tomahawk IV is the latest version of the missile. It has a longer range than its predecessors (well in excess of 1,000 miles), can be directed at a new target in mid-flight, and can also beam back images of the battlefield to its mother submarine.
It is fitted to all Trafalgar and Astute-class submarines.