The Tomahawk cruise missile is one of the most formidable weapons in today's American armory. However, the Tomahawk itself isn't a one-of-a-kind US weapon system when placed in the broader picture.
Longtime author Bill Yenne chronicles the history of US cruise missile development in the United States, starting with a discussion of early US cruise missiles including the Kettering Bug. As highlighted in the first chapter of the book, early US cruise missile technology starting with the Kettering Bug was rather primitive, and US cruise missiles of WW2 were basically straight-winged aircraft filled with explosives (the JB-1 and JB-10 departed from the TDN and TDR in using a flying wing design) or took the form of a slender projectile with stubby wings (e.g. Gargoyle). The American capture of V-1 buzz bombs prompted the development of an American copy of the V-1, the JB-2/KDW Loon, and the next three chapters discuss cruise missiles developed by the Air Force and Navy during the early Cold War, including the TM-61 Matador and TM-76 Mace tactical cruise missiles, the SM-62 Snark and SM-64 Navaho intercontinental cruise missiles, and the Regulus and Triton submarine-launched cruise missiles. Yenne later goes on to discuss the first indigenous American ground-launched standoff weapons, including the Rascal, Hound Dog and Skybolt cruise missiles but also the SM-73 and GAM-71 decoy missiles.
The chapters regarding the Tomahawk cruise missile as well as the AGM-86 and AGM-129 standoff weapons are quite interesting. The AGM-86 provided the USAF with an advanced standoff weapon that could allow bomber aircraft to save themselves the trouble of being shot down in Soviet airspace by taking out Soviet bases with AGM-86 cruise missiles. The AGM-129 served as the primary US stealth cruise missile, but didn't replace the AGM-86 in service as high maintenance issues led to its retirement in 2012. The Tomahawk has gone on to be a formidable weapon of war in a number of conflicts, and one version of the Tomahawk, the BGM-109G Gryphon, was used as a ground-launched cruise missile during the last years of the Cold War before it was eliminated under the now-suspended 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. From the Operation Desert Storm in 1991 to Donald Trump's sanctioning of cruise missile strikes against Syria, the Tomahawk has become a visible symbol of US military prowess abroad when dealing with bad actors in the Middle East; more Tomahawk missiles were fired in Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom than under Obama or Trump. The latest developments in US cruise missile technology are discussed, including the recently-deployed AGM-158 JASSM low-observable cruise missile.
For anyone interested in US weapon systems, this book is a recommended must-read, not only for comprehending the breadth of US cruise missile development during the Cold War and after, but also showing that US cruise missile technology existed as far back as the end of the WW1.
- Paperback: 204 pages
- Publisher: Specialty Press (26 September 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9781580072564
- ISBN-13: 978-1580072564
- ASIN: 1580072569
- Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 1.3 x 22.9 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 739 g
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- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 142,531 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)