Raytheon celebrates military milestone

Published: Nov. 5, 2013 at 10:51 PM MST|Updated: Nov. 19, 2013 at 10:51 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson is celebrating delivery of its 3,000th Tomahawk Block IV cruise missile.

Speeches, videos and picture-taking were part of the celebration Monday.

"Since the first Gulf War the Tomahawk has been our nation's weapon of choice," Raytheon Missile Systems President Taylor Lawrence told those gathered for the celebration.

3,000 Tomahawk Block IV missiles delivered since it was introduced in 2004.

The Block IV is the latest Tomahawk cruise missile incarnation from Raytheon Missile Systems.

Recently used in Libya, the Tomahawk Block IV comes in at about half the price of the Block III--at about one million dollars per missile.

The Block IV can do what its predecessors could not.

They were what's called "fire and forget" missiles.  They could not be re-targeted in mid-air.

The Block IV can change targets while in flight.

"You can mission plan this system in minutes. It can be re-targeted from the ground. It can be re-targeted from the air. It can be re-targeted from ships, from far way," said Roy Donelson.

Tomahawks can be fired from ships and submarines up to 1,000 miles from their targets.

"It's a missile that can swim out of a torpedo tube, take off like a rocket and fly like a jet," Lawrence said.

Raytheon believes cost saving and a proven track record can hold off competitors like Lockheed Martin.

As for the future, Raytheon is working to develop, what it calls, a multi-mission Tomahawk, the Block IV-Plus.

"It's really a seeker that we're adding to the system to take out moving targets whether they're on land or sea. Block IV was designed for fixed targets. It can loiter and move to different targets, but now we want to take out mobile and moving targets," Donelson said.

The current Block IV is primarily a land attack weapon.

For now, Raytheon says it's funding development of the next generation of Tomahawk, paying for upgrades itself.

Raytheon says the new missile is meant to meet the developing needs of the U.S. Navy.