Defense Leaders Warn of Tomahawk Missile Shortage

It’s as naïve and accidental as the ongoing military reductions (intentional purging) leaving the US military at pre-World War II levels.

Military could run out of key weapon in fight against ISIL

As the United States steps up its battle against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS), defense leaders on Capitol Hill are raising concerns about a looming shortage in the Tomahawk missile supply, a key offensive weapon that the Navy has deployed against militant strongholds in Syria and elsewhere.

The U.S. Navy’s current reliance on the Tomahawk, known as “the world’s most advanced cruise missile,” comes just months after the Obama administration attempted to significantly cut funding for the weapon and then eliminate it completely it in 2016, a move that drew heavy criticism from defense experts and lawmakers.

With the military relying on the weapons in its strikes against ISIL targets in Syria, defense leaders have begun to warn that the Pentagon could quickly run through its Tomahawk stockpiles, a problem exacerbated by defense budget cuts known as sequestration, defense sources say.

The House Armed Services Committee (HASC) is now expressing concern that the Pentagon has “insufficient weapons inventories” and that the Obama administration’s proposed termination of the Tomahawk missile program in fiscal year 2016 would worsen “a deficient inventory problem,” according to defense insiders and sources close to the committee.

The U.S. Navy deployed 47 Tomahawks last week during its strikes in Syria, which amounts to 47 percent of its planned purchases of the weapon in 2015, according to the American Thinker. There are currently enough Tomahawks left “for roughly 85 days of a campaign, at the current rate of use,” the report states.

With a stockpile of about 4,000 Tomahawks—and the administration still contending that cuts are needed despite its reliance on the missile—defense insiders warn that the inventory could quickly run low as the military campaign against ISIL continues in Syria and Iraq.

“You could see that if you’re starting to really ramp up [use] and be more aggressive, it wouldn’t take you too long to expend a significant portion of that [inventory],” one defense insider told the Washington Free Beacon. “If you’re firing 600 to 800 during a campaign … it starts to chip away at it pretty fast.”

About 200 Tomahawks were used in the brief 2011 military campaign in Libya; 2,000 have been deployed since the program’s inception.

The low stockpile of Tomahawks has highlighted how deepening defense cuts are impacting on-the-ground realities, according to Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R., Calif.), HASC’s chairman.

“As we saw in this week’s airstrikes against ISIL, Tomahawk missiles are among the most valuable and precise tools in our military arsenal,” McKeon said in a statement provided to the Free Beacon. “They provide unmanned, all-weather, deep-strike attack capability against both fixed and mobile targets which makes them particularly useful against terrorist groups like ISIL that transcend nations and borders.”

Full article: Defense Leaders Warn of Tomahawk Missile Shortage (Washington Free Beacon)

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