The US Navy launched about 60 Tomahawk missiles at military targets in Syria on Friday, relying on a mainstay weapon that can fulfill the Pentagon desire to attack from a safe distance.
The missiles were launched by Rota, the Spain-based US guided missile destroyers USS Ross and USS Porter from the Mediterranean Sea. According to Pentagon, they were programmed to hit aircraft shelters, ammunition storage sites, radar sites, aircraft and fuel sites at Shayrat Air Base.
According to Washington Post, one of the largest advantages of the Tomahawk is that it does not require a pilot to be anywhere near a potential target. It can be launched from Navy destroyers up to 1600 kilometers away, a tactical consideration when facing enemy air defenses.
It added that Tomahawks have a less explosive yield than larger bombs carried by manned US aircraft.
Tomahawks are intermediate-range cruise missiles, with a range of about 1,250 to 2,500 kilometers.
According to Navy website, they could be fired from sea and travel relatively low to the ground and guided by an advanced navigation system.
The Tomahawk can be equipped with a 1,000-pound conventional warhead, the Navy says.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Missile Defense Project says Tomahawks are designed to fly at subsonic speed while maintaining a low altitude, which makes them difficult to detect on radars. They use tailored guidance systems to maneuver while at such low elevation. The Tomahawk was first used by the United States in combat during Operation Desert Storm in 1991 and the United States began selling them to the UK in 1995.2 Tomahawks can be launched from over 140 U.S. Navy ships and submarines, including four converted Ohio-class submarines, as well Astute, Swiftsure, and Trafalgar-class submarines of the Royal Navy.3
The Center added that in 2016, the Navy requested $434 million to start modifying 245 TLAMS for anti-ship missions, making them capable of hitting enemy ships up to 1,000 nautical miles away within the next decade. This plan would call for modifications to missiles currently on Ticonderoga guided missile cruisers, Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers, the Navy’s attack submarine fleet (SSNs), and the four Ohio-class guided nuclear missile submarines (SSGNs). This program, if funded, will continue the Navy’s life extension program for Tomahawk missiles.
Analysts estimate one Tomahawk unit cost more than $800,000.
Now, what could be used later if Trump decides to expand the attack?
- The US Navy’s Sixth Fleet, headquartered in Naples, has two destroyers — the USS Porter and the USS Ross — in the eastern Mediterranean that could shoot a barrage of Tomahawk cruise missiles into Syria.
- These missiles can also be launched from attack submarines, however, the location of the vessels is unknown.
-The USS George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier is also in the Gulf, currently supporting operations against ISIS.
- In the Gulf, the Navy’s Fifth Fleet is present.
- The United States has air bases that can use such as Incirlik. Turkey, 100km from the Syri.
-US military has in the region as well hi-tech F-22 Raptors, F-16s and even B-52 heavy bombers.
-The F-22, which cost about $360 million apiece, is the world’s most advanced fighter because of its ability to evade radar.