Navy Cuts Tomahawk - Funds for Next Generation Land Attack Weapon

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Navy Jettisons More Than 1,100 Tomahawk Missiles, $1.8B From Procurement Plan

Posted: Mar. 21, 2014

The Navy's fiscal year 2015 budget lops off $1.8 billion and five years of planned Tactical Tomahawk cruise missile purchases, "suspending" the production of one of Raytheon's franchise products as well as one of the Pentagon's most recognized weapons, while pledging $360 million to begin work on a replacement "next-generation land-attack weapon."

The proposed reductions would cut the Navy's total Tactical Tomahawk acquisition by 1,161 cruise missiles, a 23 percent decrement that would pare the total buy through 2020 from 4,951 to 3,790, according to a comparison of figures in the FY-15 budget request and a report sent to Congress last May.

The Navy's FY-15 budget offers little explanation for the changes. "Procurement of new missiles has been suspended beginning in FY-16," a Navy budget justification document states, "because inventory will satisfy munition requirements."

While the Navy's FY-15 budget proposal would cut the Tomahawk procurement line, the research and development budget request would increase to $506.8 million over the new five-year spending plan. The FY-14 five-year plan projected a total of just $61.2 million for Tomahawk R&D.

The bulk of the new research and development spending, $360 million, would fund early work on a follow-on weapon, the "next-generation land attack weapon," beginning with $5 million in FY-15.

"Funding is provided for a Next Generation Land Attack Weapon, a weapons system that is long-range, survivable and can be launched from multiple surface and submarine platforms," states the budget request. "NGLAW will incorporate evaluated existing and emergent technologies to support an improved strike capability with an initial operational capability no later than 2024."

The Navy plans to begin an analysis of alternatives for the Tomahawk follow-on capability in FY-15, with a goal of awarding a technology demonstration contract -- or contracts -- during the second quarter of FY-16, according to the budget. The program would begin engineering and manufacturing development during the first quarter of FY-18.

If Congress approves the Navy proposal to alter the program of record, the Tomahawk production suspension will impact three Raytheon facilities -- one in Camden, AR, and two in Tucson, AZ, the Rita Road and Final Assembly and Checkout (FACO) plants -- as well as a dozen subcontractors that provide "integral" parts for the cruise missile, according to FY-15 budget documents.

"Suspension efforts at these facilities will include elements of the smart suspension guidelines to document, archive, preserve, store [Tactical Tomahawk] unique production process/test documentation, test equipment, tooling, support equipment, and address environmental issues," states the budget request. "The program office has accounted for these activities with the assumption that [foreign military] sales are no longer viable."

To date, Raytheon has delivered more than 3,000 Tactical Tomahawks, also called Block IV variants of the missile, said a company official.

Another company official described the Navy's Tomahawk plan as a "preliminary" proposal marking the beginning of "discussions" between the executive and legislative branches.

"We're going to wait until things are final before we comment," said Raytheon spokesman John Patterson.

Asked if the Navy's proposal amounted to a "no-confidence" vote in the capabilities of the Tomahawk, Raytheon officials said they didn't read it as such.

"Bottom line: The Tomahawk is the go-to weapon in any conflict, just like you saw in Syria,"

Chris Sprinkle, Raytheon Tomahawk growth program manager, said in a March 11 interview. Last August, as the Pentagon drew up contingency plans to attack Syria in retaliation for chemical weapons attacks on civilians by the ruling regime, the Tomahawk was touted as the lead element of a potential air strike. "And we anticipate that people will continue to support the weapon. We know the fleet supports it," Sprinkle said. -- Jason Sherman
 
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