The Tomahawk AGM-86 is an unmanned ALCM (Air Launched Cruise Missile) designed to attack ground targets from an aircraft such as the B-52 or B-1.
The wings, tail surfaces, and engine inlet of the AGM-86 are folded while the ALCM is being carried but are deployed upon launching. Powered by a small turbofan engine which starts when the missile is released, the Tomahawk AGM-86 flies at low altitudes. The slim wings of the Tomahawk are sufficient because the ALCM does not takeoff or land and flies only at high speed.
The Tomahawk AGM-86 is programmed to fly to a preselected target by inertial guidance and by comparison techniques through which prerecorded geographical features are matched with the terrain “seen” by the missile’s sensors.
Each B-52 carries at least twelve AGM-86’s. This permits a bomber force to launch them in large numbers, saturating defenses. Further hampering enemy defenses are the small size and low-altitude flight profile of the Tomahawk, which make it difficult for the enemy to detect on radar.
The AGM-86B became operational in December 1982.
Tomahawk AGM-86 Performance
|Maximum Speed||500 mph.|
|Range||Approximately 1500 miles|
|Operating Altitude||Approximately 100-500 ft. above terrain|
|Maximum Altitude||Above 20,000 feet (estmated)|
Tomahawk AGM-86 Specifications
|Country of Origin||USA.|
|Similar Aerial Platform(s)||Apache.|
|Role||Air-launched cruise missile.|
|Armament||Gihh Explosive (HE) or W-80-1 nuclear warhead|
|Engine||Williams International F107-WR-101 turbofan of 600 lbs. thrust|
|Length||20 ft. 9 in.|
|Body diameter||24 in.|
|Weight||3,100 lbs. loaded|
Tomahawk AGM-86 WEFT Description
|Wings||Low-mounted, swept-back, and untapered with small, square tips.|
|Engine(s)||Turbofan in aft section. Oval intake and a round exhaust. May have propfan.|
|Fuselage||Slabsided with flat bottom. Tapers to a round nose and at rear section.|
|Tail||Fin backtapered with square tip. Flats low-mounted and straight. Some versions have V-tail.|
Countries which Fly the Tomahawk AGM-86
Additional Reading on the Tomahawk AGM-86
Official Boeing Data Sheet on the Tomahawk AGM-86