40th FLTS F-15E #87-018 acts as 'chase' for a
test Tomahawk missile launched from SSGN-728
USS Florida, while operating in the Gulf of
5/24/2007 - Four US Navy Tomahawk Cruise Missiles
were launched from the USS FLORIDA, SSGN-728 (Guided
Missile Submarine Nuclear), while underway in the Gulf
of Mexico recently. The tests were the first Tomahawk
launches from the new SSGN Class submarine which
included one Block III, and three Block IV variants of
the Tomahawk missile as part of the SSGN’s strike
operational evaluation (OPEVAL).
The FLORIDA is one of four OHIO Class ballistic
missile submarines being converted into
conventionally-armed strike submarines. The SSGN
Conversion Program commenced in 2001 to convert the
OHIO (SSGN-726), FLORIDA, MICHIGAN (SSGN-727) and
GEORGIA (SSGN-729) submarines.
Each SSGN has its two forward missile tubes converted
into Dry-Deck Shelter / Advanced SEAL Delivery System
(DDS/ASDS) capable Lock-Out Chambers. The remaining
twenty-two missile tubes are able to hold up to 154
Tomahawk missiles. The SSGN also contains facilities
for up to 66 Special Operation Forces (SOF) personnel.
“The OHIO Class SSGNs represent a new capability for
the Navy,” said Rear Admiral William Hilarides,
Program Executive Officer, Submarine. “Our submarines
have been associated with Special Forces since World
War II and they have been firing missiles since the
1950s. However, we have never had the ability to host
so many missiles and SOF aboard a single clandestine,
long-range, fast, stealthy platform.”
All of the test missiles were vertically launched
from the USS FLORIDA’s capsule launch system while
underway off the coast of western Florida, and flew a
fully-guided land attack mission to the Eglin Air
Force Base (AFB) land test range area.
During the first flight test conducted on 15 May, two
Tomahawk Block IV Cruise Missiles were launched within
seconds of each other in the first Tomahawk Land
Attack Missile multiple-launch test event.
The test-configured missiles transitioned to cruise
flight, and made landfall on the Gulf Coast en route
to the Eglin test range. Both test missiles impacted
the planned target on the test range complex, after
completing flights of 670 and 252 nautical miles.
In the second test on 16 May, a Block III test
missile flew a 312 nautical mile mission to the Eglin
test range. During the terminal portion of the flight,
the missile performed a simulated programmed warhead
detonation delivery on a target, followed by an
automatic parachute recovery.
In the third test on 17 May, a Block IV test missile
flew a 531 nautical mile route to the Eglin range and
impacted the planned target. This Block IV mission was
planned entirely onboard the SSGN launch platform.
These events brought the total number of flight tests
of the Tomahawk Cruise Missile that have been
conducted to 453.
As in all Tomahawk flight tests, air safety was
carefully planned by the NAVAIR Test Team in
coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration.
For safety purposes, the Tomahawk could have been
guided by commands from safety chase aircraft.
Additionally, alternate safe landing zones were
planned along the test missile’s flight path.
The successful tests were supported by safety chase
aircraft provided by the 46th Test Wing’s 40th Flight
Test Squadron, based at Eglin AFB. Chase aircraft were
flown by combined Air Force and Navy crews from the
40th and the Navy’s VX-30 and VX-31 Test Squadrons,
based at Point Mugu and China Lake, Calif.
Telemetry and communications support aircraft were
provided by the 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron from
Tyndall AFB. Airborne refueling support was provided
by the 6th Air Mobility Wing from MacDill AFB.
Response teams were staffed by Navy EOD from the Naval
Support Activity in Panama City, Fla.
Helicopter support for rapid response was provided by
the Eglin 40th Flight Test Squadron and by Air Center
Helicopters, based in Fort Worth, Texas.
Range support at Eglin was provided by personnel from
the 96th Communications Group, and the InDyne
Incorporated Operations Group.
Additional mission support was provided by the 46th
Test Wing at Eglin, including aircraft maintenance,
munitions, weather, transportation, range safety, air
armament center, 96th Air Base Wing and test
The Tomahawk Weapons System is deployed throughout
the world's oceans on numerous surface ships and
submarines, including AEGIS-Class Cruisers, Guided
Missile Destroyers, SEAWOLF and LOS ANGELES-Class
submarines, and will soon be deployed aboard the
The Program Executive Office, Strike Weapons and
Unmanned Aviation PEO (W), located at NAVAIR
headquarters’, Patuxent River, Md, manage the program.
The missile is manufactured by Raytheon Missile
Systems in Tucson, Ariz. Tomahawk is a registered
trademark of the United States Navy.
Source: NAVAIR Point Mugu Public Affairs