Navy fires first Tomahawk cruise missiles from new submarine payload tubes

TUCSON, Ariz. The U.S. Navy has test-fired two Tomahawk cruise missiles from new submarine payload tubes on the Virginia-class sub USS North Dakota (SSN-784), reports Raytheon, the maker of the Tomahawk missile. The tests -- run recently in the Gulf of Mexico near Florida -- demonstrated the submarine's ability to load, carry, and vertically launch Tomahawk missiles from the new Block III Virginia Payload Tube.

The upgraded payload tubes feature fewer parts and are designed to be more reliable. In addition to the new payload tubes, the Navy is also developing a new Virginia Payload Module, which will enable the Virginia-class submarines to carry three times as many Tomahawk missiles, thereby increasing each sub's firepower.

The Navy is continuing to upgrade the Tomahawk Block IV's communications and navigation capabilities; one of these is the addition of a multimode seeker to enable the sub to hit high-value moving targets at sea. The modernized Tomahawks are set to deploy beginning in 2019 and are planned to remain in the U.S. Navy weapons inventory beyond 2040.