What Are Tomahawk Missiles?

Tomahawk missiles — launched during Thursday's attack by the U.S. in Syria — have long been the military's favorite because of its accuracy and destruction capability.
Ishani Roy

President Donald Trump's decision of using the Tomahawk missiles in its attack in Syria on Thursday night is apparently not surprising as this cruise missile has been the backbone of the U.S. warfare for more than 20 years, reports said.

The long-range cruise missiles have been used by the U.S. since the 1990s because of its accuracy. When the U.S. raided Iraq in 1993, the military relied on an unmanned Tomahawk cruise missile because of its accuracy and its non-requirement of sending a piloted aircraft, which the U.S. didn't want to send in Baghdad as it was heavily defended, according to a New York Times report.

Read: Was The US Attack On Syria Legal?

A Tomahawk missile's accuracy can be gauged from the fact that it can be launched from ships or submarines into heavily defended areas even more than 1,000 miles away and it can still maintain its precision. It can also destroy entire buildings as each missile usually carries a 1,000-pound warhead that can cause immense damage.

The manufacturer of Tomahawk missiles, Raytheon, on its website, describes the missile as a "modern, mature, powerful” weapon capable of “precise strikes on high-value targets with minimal collateral damage.” Its accuracy and GPS-enabled precision enable the missile to be used by the U.S. Navy in its attacks against threatening nations. The missile has been used over 2,000 times in combat and flight-tested more than 500 times.

In 2011, when a multi-state NATO-led coalition started a military intervention in Libya to protect the civilians against the regime of Muammar al-Qaddafi, Tomahawk missiles played an important role in the operation. More than 112 Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired over 20 targets in Libya in the opening phase of the operation, according to reports.

The latest upgrade to the Tomahawk series is Tomahawk Block IV, which has enhanced qualities than its previous models. Block IV was tested in January by the U.S. Navy.

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