US State Department approves $1.3bn Tomahawk deal
March 17, 2023
Photo: Defence Connect
The US State Department has formally approved the foreign military sale of the Tomahawk Block V and Block IV All Up Rounds (AUR) and related equipment for an estimated cost of AU$1.3 billion (US$895 million) to Australia.
Under the deal, the Australian government requested up to 200 Tomahawk Block V All Up Rounds (AUR) (RGM-109E) and up to 20 Tomahawk Block IV AUR (RGM-109E). Also included is support for all three segments of Australia’s Tomahawk Weapon System (TWS) to include the AUR, the Tactical Tomahawk Weapon Control System (TTWCS), and the Theatre Mission Planning Center (TMPC).
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.
The US State Department states, “This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States. Australia is one of our 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. It is vital to the US national interest to assist our ally in developing and maintaining a strong and ready self-defence capability.”
The Tomahawk Block IV Tactical Tomahawk, or TACTOM, has a data link that allows it to switch targets while in flight — the Block IV can loiter for hours and change course instantly on command.
Meanwhile, the Block V is part of a US Navy process begun in 2020 to recertify and modernise the Tomahawk weapons system, extending its service life by 15 years, and resulting in the new Tomahawk Block V series:
Block V: A modernised TACTOM with upgraded navigation and communication;
Block Va: Block V that can strike moving targets at sea; and
Block Vb: Block V, with a joint multi-effects warhead that can hit more diverse land targets.
These important capabilities will, as the US State Department states, “The proposed sale will improve Australia’s capability to interoperate with US maritime forces and other allied forces as well as its ability to contribute to missions of mutual interest. By deploying the Tomahawk Weapon System, Australia will contribute to global readiness and enhance the capability of US Forces operating alongside them globally.
“Australia will use the enhanced capability as a deterrent to regional threats and to strengthen its homeland defense. Australia will have no difficulty absorbing this equipment into its armed forces,” the State Department explained.
The prime US contractor will be Raytheon Missiles & Defense, based in Tucson, Arizona and the US State Department expects that, “there are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale”.
Implementation of this proposed sale will require multiple trips by US government representatives and contractor personnel to visit Australia on a temporary basis over the life of the case to support delivery and integration of items and to provide supply support management, inventory control, and equipment familiarisation. This will also include program and technical reviews.