The US Marine Corps activated its first-ever Tomahawk cruise missile battery last week.
The 11th Marine Regiment-operated Alpha Battery is one of three long-range missile (LMSL) batteries that the service plans to procure beginning in 2024.
The service reportedly expects to have a fully-operational LMSL battalion before the end of the decade, consisting of three batteries.
Unmanned Launch Vehicle
Each battery consists of 16 4×4 vehicle launchers, a variant of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle-based ROGUE Fires unmanned carrier, carrying a single Mk.41 vertical launch system cell.
The launcher’s primary weapon is expected to be the anti-ship optimized Maritime Strike Tomahawk, or the missile’s latest Va variant, capable of striking moving targets at a range of 1,000 miles (1,609 kilometers).
Ground-Launched Missile Capability
The LMSL is part of the US military’s effort to have a ground-launched Tomahawk missile, including the US Army’s recently tested Mid-Range Capability system, which can also fire the ship-launched SM-6 surface-to-air missile.
In addition, the Marines live-tested the ground-based Navy/Marine Expeditionary Ship Interdiction System last month, which is capable of striking targets at up to 100 nautical miles (185 kilometers/115 miles).
“This is a historic chapter in the Marine Corps and the 11th Marine Regiment. The American people expect the Marine Corps to prepare for war,” 11th Marines commanding officer Col. Patrick Eldridge said.
“There are nefarious states and actors in our world today who are credible threats to their neighbors, to our allies, and to the United States. The requirement for this capability now exists and the SecDef turned to the Marine Corps, the Marine Corps turned to 11th Marines, and we turn to Alpha Battery and our test and evaluation partners to make this capability a reality.”