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Monday, April 16, 2018

This is how the Tomahawk missiles are

Por Rory

The Tomahawks are a type of weapon that Washington has used for more than 20 years when it wants to attack accurately from a safe distance. The United States had already carried out air strikes against jihadist groups in Syria, but in 2017 it was the first time that it did so directly against the interests of the Syrian government since the war began in 2011.

But what are the Tomahawk missiles and why does the US resort to them?

Tomahawk missiles are high precision. Each of these long-range cruise missiles is more than six meters long and weighs more than 1,500 kilograms. They usually carry warheads (explosive charges) of up to 454 kilos, are designed to fly at low altitudes, reaching up to 885 km/h and are capable of reaching targets up to 1,600 kilometers away. According to Chris Harmer, a defense analyst and former naval officer working at the War Institute, consulted by The Washington Post, the explosive power of the Tomahawks is less than that of other bombs dropped from manned aircraft, but that does not matter at the time of bombing planes on land and destroying them or leaving them incapacitated.

These missiles work thanks to GPS technology. Of course, they may fail, but their estimated margin of error is only 10 meters. According to Raytheon, the US arms giant behind its manufacture, "it is the most advanced cruise missile in the world," and was used "more than 2,000 times in combat and subjected to flight tests more than 500 times." And, certainly, these missiles have history. The Tomahawks are an important weapon for the United States since the Persian Gulf War in the 1990s, when the US-led coalition carried out the military operation known as "Desert Storm" in Iraq.

They were also key in Libya during the NATO military operations against the government of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. These missiles were also used in September 2014, when the United States bombed the self-styled Islamic State in Syria. At that time, the Pentagon said it launched 47 Tomahawk from two ships from the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea. And they were used by the Pentagon in October 2016 in an attack from the Red Sea in which they bombed three radar installations in Yemen. As in 2017, when 59 Tomahawk missiles were dropped from two US ships in the eastern Mediterranean against a Syrian air base, in response, according to President Donald Trump, to the alleged use of chemical weapons by the government of Bashar al-Assad.