Washington: When it was announced that the US Navy had attacked a Syrian airbase with as many as 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles, people thought that the facility must have got completely decimated. People expected substantial loss of lives from Bashar Al Assad’s army that is said to be behind the most recent chemical attack in a rebel held town.
More than hundred civilians reportedly died in the alleged chemical attack on the town. US claims that the chemical attack was launched from Shayrat Air Force base in Homs province.
A dozen or so Tomahawk cruise missiles are enough to decimate an airbase, destroy aircrafts and hangers, besides rendering the runways useless for weeks to come. But nothing of this sort seems to have happened.
Images and videos in circulation and published by the top Russians news source RT.Com show some destruction here and there, but the air facility seems to have remained intact with minor damage to a few airplanes. Most of the hangers have remained intact and the entire runway is intact without any damage.
Tomahawk cruise missiles are very deadly and such minor losses after close to 60 such missiles hitting the same facility makes it apparent it was ensured that losses were minimal or the Russians leaked the info to their allies.
It must be noted that the intermediate-range cruise missiles have a range of about 800 miles to 1500 miles and are equipped with a 1000-pound conventional warhead. They are fired from sea and travel relatively low to the ground to avoid radar detection. Tomahawks cruise missiles are actually guided by an advanced navigation system, they can be steered to their targets from afar.
Primary Function: Long-range subsonic cruise missile for striking high value or heavily defended land targets.
Contractor: Raytheon Systems Company, Tucson, AZ.
Date Deployed: Block II TLAM-A IOC – 1984
Block III � IOC 1994
Block IV � IOC expected 2004.
Unit Cost: Approximately $832,000.
Propulsion: Block II/III TLAM-A, C & D – Williams International F107 cruise turbo-fan engine; ARC/CSD solid-fuel booster
Length: 18 feet 3 inches (5.56 meters); with booster: 20 feet 6 inches (6.25 meters).
Diameter: 20.4 inches (51.81 cm).
Wingspan: 8 feet 9 inches (2.67 meters).
Weight: 2,900 pounds (1,315.44 kg); 3,500 pounds (1,587.6 kg) with booster.
Speed: Subsonic – about 550 mph (880 km/h).
Range: Block II TLAM-A � 1350 nautical miles (1500 statute miles, 2500 km)
Block III TLAM-C – 900 nautical miles (1000 statute miles, 1600 km)
Block III TLAM-D – 700 nautical miles (800 statute miles, 1250 km
Block IV TLAM-E – 900 nautical miles (1000 statute miles, 1600 km)
Guidance System: Block II TLAM-A INS, TERCOM, Block III TLAM-C, D & Block IV TLAM-E � INS, TERCOM, DSMAC, and GPS.
Warhead: Block II TLAM-N W80 nuclear warhead
Block III TLAM-C and Block IV TLAM-E – 1,000 pound class unitary warhead
Block III TLAM-D – conventional submunitions dispenser with combined effect bomblets