Cassi Creek: That’s correct, $1.45 million per copy. That’s not such a bad deal if the copy replaces a pilot and plane or an infantry unit being sent to dictate policy to another nation or another terrorist organization.
But if all we intend to do is throw munitions into a country involved in an increasingly bloody civil war, then perhaps the cost per unit is far too great.
Tomahawks, for all their vaunted and deserved accuracy and efficacy, are a form of long-range air power with multiple types of warheads and multiple launch platform capabilities. They can destroy single building targets, destroy aircraft parked in the open, target weapons depots and obliterate enemy ordnance. But like any other air power, they cannot seize and hold territory. They can’t displace an existing dictatorship if they are not programmed to target specific people at specific locations.
We appear to ramping up our forces for a punitive strike against Syria, based upon the belief that Syrian forces deployed Sarin against civilians. We, however, have announced our intent to avoid striking Sarin storage sites.
Given our unwillingness to target Assad and our unwillingness to target the nerve agents Syria still has, we have no chance of changing any Syrian or Syrian rebel policies. We will only provide a reason for all Syrians and all members of the Arab league to ally with Iran in condemning the U.S. and Israel as aggressors against innocent Arabs.
Here’s a better idea. Let the GOP counsel Obama on how to start an unwanted war in a nation that will self-destruct on its own. Then, let the Democrats threaten to defund the GOP’s next oil war. By that time, perhaps Syria’s nerve agents will be depleted and one of the religious factions that will obviously replace Assad in the future will have consolidated its power and began dragging Syria back to the 9th century.
We can take the money saved by not firing tomahawks and build a few new bridges.
Just to provide a bit of information about the complexity and function of the Tomahawk, see below
The Tomahawk missile family consists of a number of subsonic, jet engine-powered missiles for attacking a variety of surface targets. Although a number of launch platforms have been deployed or envisaged, only sea (both surface ship and submarine) launched variants are currently in service. Tomahawk has a modular design, allowing a wide variety of warhead, guidance, and range capabilities.
There have been several variants of the BGM-109 Tomahawk employing various types of warheads.
· AGM-109H/L Medium Range Air to Surface Missile (MRASM) - a shorter range, turbojet powered ASM with bomblet munitions; never entered service.
· BGM-109A Tomahawk Land Attack Missile - Nuclear (TLAM-A) with a W80 nuclear warhead. Retired from service sometime between 2010 and 2013.
· BGM-109C Tomahawk Land Attack Missile - Conventional (TLAM-C) with a unitary warhead.
· BGM-109D Tomahawk Land Attack Missile - Dispenser (TLAM-D) with submunitions.
· BGM-109G Ground Launched Cruise Missile (GLCM)- with a W84 nuclear warhead; withdrawn from service in 1987.
· RGM/UGM-109B Tomahawk Anti Ship Missile (TASM) - radar guided anti-shipping variant; withdrawn from service in the 1990s.
· RGM/UGM-109E Tomahawk Land Attack Missile (TLAM Block IV) - improved version of the TLAM-C.
Ground Launch Cruise Missiles (GLCM) and their truck-like launch vehicles were employed at bases in Europe; it was withdrawn from service to comply with the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Many of the anti-ship versions were converted into TLAMs at the end of the Cold War. The Block III TLAMs that entered service in 1993 can fly farther and use Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers to strike more precisely. Block IV TLAMs are completely redesigned with an improved turbofan engine. The F107-402 engine provided the new BLK III with a throttle control, allowing in-flight speed changes. This engine also provided better fuel economy. The Block IV TLAMs have enhanced deep-strike capabilities and are equipped with a real-time targeting system for striking fleeting targets.
A major improvement to the Tomahawk is network-centric warfare-capabilities, using data from multiple sensors (aircraft, UAVs, satellites, foot soldiers, tanks, ships) to find its target. It will also be able to send data from its sensors to these platforms. It will be a part of the networked force being implemented by the Pentagon.
"Tactical Tomahawk" takes advantage of a loitering feature in the missile's flight path and allows commanders to redirect the missile to an alternative target, if required. It can be reprogrammed in-flight to attack predesignated targets with GPS coordinates stored in its memory or to any other GPS coordinates. Also, the missile can send data about its status back to the commander. It entered service with the US Navy in late 2004.
In May 2009, Raytheon Missile Systems proposed an upgrade to the Tomahawk Block IV land-attack cruise missile that would allow it to destroy or disable large, hardened warships at 900 nautical miles (1,700 km) range.