WASHINGTON (Agencies): As tensions around Taiwan escalates the US Navy is due to begin arming its submarines with anti-ship Tomahawk cruise missile next year, according to Bloomberg News, citing Capt. Jon Michael Hersey, the new Tomahawk Weapon Systems program manager, as saying.
He said that the “Maritime Strike” version of the Tomahawk, which was originally designed for hitting ground targets, would be fielded after October 1, 2024.
The new missiles are expected to be installed on Los Angeles- and Virginia-class submarines, which are capable of carrying 12 land-attack Tomahawks each. A modified version of the Virginia-class submarine will reportedly carry 40 such missiles. The estimated range of the Tomahawk is about 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles)
Bloomberg reported in this context that the Navy’s plans to put the upgraded Tomahawks in service as part of Washington’s drive to boost military capabilities “to challenge Chinese maritime forces, particularly around Taiwan.”
China, which considers Taiwan to be an essential part of the PRC, condemned Pelosi’s trip, and launched large-scale military exercises in the vicinity of the island.
Although the US does not maintain formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, Washington has a representative office in Taipei and remains the island’s biggest supplier of military hardware.
The United States also often sends its warships and surveillance planes to the Taiwan Strait, a move that Beijing condemns as provocative. The Chinese government has lashed out at Washington’s actions as simply “a security risk creator in the region.”