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Tomahawk missile test fired from US Navy sub's new payload tube

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Tomahawk being test fired from an underwater platform. A Raytheon photo

TUCSON, ARIZONA (BNS): Two Tomahawk subsonic cruise missiles have been test fired from a US Navy submarine’s new payload tubes, Raytheon, the weapon's manufacturer, has announced.

The tests conducted in the Gulf of Mexico near Florida involved the Virginia-class submarine, USS North Dakota.

The tactical missiles, fired from the underwater platform's new Block III Virginia Payload Tube, proved the submarine's ability to load, carry and vertically launch the Tomahawks, Raytheon said on July 18.

The upgraded tubes feature fewer parts and will be even more reliable, the company said.

In addition to the new payload tubes, the US Navy is also developing a new Virginia Payload Module. The new modules will triple the number of Tomahawk missiles that Virginia-class submarines can carry, dramatically increasing each sub's firepower.

"As the Navy continues to modernize its subs, Raytheon continues to modernize Tomahawk, keeping this one-of-a-kind weapon well ahead of the threat," said Mike Jarrett, Raytheon Air Warfare Systems vice president. 

"Today's Tomahawk is a far cry from its predecessors and tomorrow's missile will feature even more capability, giving our sailors the edge they need for decades to come," the official added.

The US Navy continues to upgrade the Tomahawk Block IV's communications and navigation capabilities, while adding a multi-mode seeker so it can hit high-value moving targets at sea.

These modernized Tomahawks are on track to deploy beginning in 2019 and will be in the US Navy inventory beyond 2040, the Raytheon statement said.

Fired in combat more than 2,300 times, the Tomahawk cruise missiles are used by US and British forces to defeat integrated air defense systems and conduct long-range precision strike missions against high-value targets. Surface ships and other classes of submarines can carry more than 100 Tomahawks when needed.

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