TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — There was a celebration in Tucson Thursday for something built here that helps protect our military, and boosts jobs and the local economy. The Navy has formally accepted the latest version of Raytheon’s Tomahawk missile.
Since the early ’80s, the Navy’s depended on Tomahawks to take out enemies without risking pilots in the air or troops on the ground.
A rocket booster kicks the missile free of its launch tube on a surface ship or submarine, then wings swing out and a small jet engine flies the missile up to a thousand miles to its target.
Tomahawks are built at the Raytheon plant in Tucson where Raytheon VP Kim Ernzen says the project provides well-paying jobs.
“Tomahawk here in Tucson represents about 300 jobs, so we have jobs, not only in our engineering organization, but also in our production line, so we were able to keep a very solid workforce going here to support the Tomahawk weapon.”
Ernzen is Raytheon’s Vice President for Naval Power programs. She says those jobs are long-term as Raytheon builds new missiles and updates older ones.
A ceremony honored the Navy’s official acceptance of the fifth major model in the Tomahawk’s almost 40-year history.
The newest models don’t have to go straight to a pre-programmed target. They can fly around an area, and send back images that allow controllers to select new targets as needed.
Emzen says, “If targets are moving, or if they have been given different intelligence that says that they need to reroute where they want to go strike, they're able to do that in route, because of the flexibility that Tomahawk brings to the fight for them.”
And the Tomahawks mean jobs for more than Tucsonans. Thousands of contract workers across the country create the parts that come together in the missiles made here.