U.S. Military May be Running Out of Tomahawk Missiles: Report

A new report suggests that the American military may be running out of tomahawk missiles, a crucial munition that is currently being utilized in multiple foreign theaters around the world.

According to the Daily Caller, one likely reason for the decline in supply is the excessive use of the Tomahawk Land Attack Cruise Missiles – often shortened to TLAMs, or simply referred to as “Tomahawks” – in strikes on Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Even before the current tensions in Yemen, Tomahawk strikes on Houthi targets were being carried out in January of 2023 as well. The Navy admitted in budget documents that in a single strike on the Houthis in that month, more Tomahawks were used than the Navy had purchased in the entirety of 2022. Each Tomahawk missile costs about $2 million.

“Firing off more weapons than America buys causes stockpiles to decline quickly. These are the same weapons reserve the nation would need should Beijing seek to use force to take Taiwan while the United States is supporting wars in two other regions,” wrote McKenzie Eaglen, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, in an op-ed on February 12th.

Tomahawks are launched from platforms on the ocean, such as destroyers and submarines, thus making them an asset of the U.S. Navy. Each missile has a range of over 900 miles, and is thus the preferred method for surgical strikes on enemy targets at long distances. The extreme range of the Tomahawk allows American troops to stay far away from the front lines, while still carrying out effective attacks against the enemy.

But since the start of the new crisis in the Red Sea, where Houthi rebels have begun frequently attacking commercial and military vessels alike, the U.S. has fired dozens of Tomahawks at Houthi targets in Yemen. In the initial attacks launched by joint American and British forces on January 11th, over 60 targets in 30 different locations were struck by 150 types of munitions, including Tomahawks and Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs).

Subsequent strikes include January 22nd, which struck eight different Houthi locations, and February 3rd, when the combined forces of the U.S. and U.K. hit at least 36 targets across 13 different locations.

“The way I was trained is you use us as the least capable — but still able to do the mission — weapon on the target, and so I would suspect we’re using the older, less survivable Tomahawks inside Iraq, Syria, and Yemen today, because those are not real challenging threat environments,” said Brent Sadler, senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation. “We may just be getting rid of stuff that we can’t update, or it’s just very old.”

The total amount of Tomahawks used, and how many are still left in supply, is unknown due to the military’s full inventory remaining classified. But experts nevertheless worry about the excessive use of Tomahawks and its implications for potential future conflicts where such weapons may be needed more urgently than the current operations.

“Some estimates put the inventory at 4,000 Tomahawks, based on how many have been purchased and some information about what’s been expended. I would give that plus or minus 100 or 200. It’s a ballpark figure,” Sadler noted. “In a war with China, this doesn’t necessarily last very long.”

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About Eric Lendrum

Eric Lendrum graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he was the Secretary of the College Republicans and the founding chairman of the school’s Young Americans for Freedom chapter. He has interned for Young America’s Foundation, the Heritage Foundation, and the White House, and has worked for numerous campaigns including the 2018 re-election of Congressman Devin Nunes (CA-22). He is currently a co-host of The Right Take podcast.

Photo: U.S. FIFTH FLEET AREA OF OPERATIONS - APRIL 13: In this handout released by the U.S. Navy, the guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey (CG 61) fires a Tomahawk land attack missile at Syria as part of an allied strike April 13, 2018. Monterey is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of maritime security operations to reassure allies and partners and preserve the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce in the region. President Donald Trump has ordered a joint force strike on Syria with Britain and France over the recent suspected chemical attack by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.(Photo by Matthew Daniels/U.S. Navy via Getty Images)