San Diego ships may get powerful new warheads - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

San Diego ships may get powerful new warheads

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HARBOR ISLAND (CBS 8) - A weapon on some San Diego warships may be getting a lot more powerful. The Navy is testing a new warhead known as the "Bunker Buster".

The new "Bunker Buster" warhead for the Tomahawk Block IV missile was tested by the U.S. Navy and Raytheon this past summer at China Lake.

"It blew the heck out of the target area," Raytheon Business Development Manager Jeff Meyer said.

Officially called the joint multi-effects warhead system, this new, more powerful warhead would enhance the Tomahawk missile's ability to penetrate hardened targets, like bunkers. Currently, the Block IV Tomahawk has a unitary warhead.

"It does one thing very well -- blows up and fragment -- but it may not penetrate as far as we'd like," Meyer said.

This new tandem warhead creates an initial explosion and a follow-on explosion, forcing the Tomahawk missile through thicker concrete and steel structures.

"It just improves the capability of the system in different environments, whether it's hitting an aircraft on the airfield or if you want to go in and hit a command post that's underground a bit," Meyer said.

Touted as the world's most capable cruise missile, the Tomahawk Block IV is already stocked on some San Diego-based warships.

It will be up to the U.S. Navy to decide where this new warhead is tested. So far though, the Navy's program manager for Tomahawk Weapons Systems says "The first test demonstrates that the program is on schedule and moving forward as planned."

"It shows we have a pretty good design and we are on the right track," Meyer said.

Raytheon and the Navy will continue to develop and test this new tandem warhead over the next few years. If all goes well, it could be integrated with the Tomahawk Block IV missile in 2014 or 2015.

The Tomahawk cruise missile has been used in virtually every combat operation from Desert Storm through today, with more than 1,900 Tomahawk missiles fired in combat.

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