June 26, 1998

Advanced Tomahawk brings 21st century technology to fleet

By Sandy Schroeder


The Tomahawk cruise missile's advanced weapon control system brings 21st century technology to the warfighter, as evidenced by achieving an important milestone last week.

The Advanced Tomahawk Weapon Control System (ATWCS) Phase One, successfully completed its Operational Evaluation (OPEVAL). Commander, Operational Test and Evaluation Force, the Navy's independent test organization, gave ATWCS Phase One an "operationally effective and suitable" rating.

Phase One of ATWCS is the replacement of the Tomahawk track control group. The track control group is the system that receives and processes mission data from a planning site located off the ship. This phase of the program is called track control group replacement. The operational testing took place aboard the Ticonderoga-class cruiser, USS Monterey (CG 61). The testing included several realistic fleet scenarios and reliability checks on hardware and software. The scenarios tested end-to-end system capabilities, from receipt of the tasking messages and mission data to actual launch of the missile. This baseline of ATWCS is being installed on Arleigh Burke-class and Spruance-class destroyers and on Ticonderoga-class cruisers.

The ATWCS replaces obsolete Tomahawk weapon control systems components with Navy standard processors. This upgrade is an important improvement to the weapons control system hardware and software. It upgrades obsolete processor capability from two processors to six, and increases hard storage from two megabytes to one-and-a-half gigabytes of random access memory.

Now, the ATWCS user will work in a windows computer environment with a mouse, instead of the green, push-button display. This all contributes to a decreased execution time, increased processing capability and increased potential for growth. Additionally, ATWCS is one of the initial weapon system programs to extensively use commercial-off-the-shelf software and hardware.

The ATWCS track control group replacement program is the second baseline to successfully pass OPEVAL, the first being submarines. The U.S. submarine version of ATWCS is currently deployed on two Los Angeles-class attack submarines.

The ATWCS is the successor to the original Tomahawk weapon control system, which saw significant action in Desert Storm and Bosnia.

The next milestone for this program is the replacement of the Tomahawk launch control group, which is scheduled for test and evaluation in fiscal 1999. With the replacement of both the track control group and the launch control group, the fleet Sailor will have a complete state-of-the-art weapon system, boasting unmatched accuracy and firepower.

Last updated: 6.26.98