Surface Warfare Magazine
Sharing stories and news from Sailors across the U.S. Navy’s Surface Forces
Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center
TLAM - Warfighting Excellence

NSAWCThe Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center (NSAWC), located in the high desert of Nevada, is a uniquely-instrumented training facility with a proven commitment to warfighting excellence and tactical innovation, making NSAWC a premier command within the Department of Defense. The standardized and formalized unit/integrated level training, tactical development and evaluation available are the bedrock for the tactical aviation combat training continuum and syllabi. The following departments support the centralized nature and Fleet-wide standardization to allow for maximum depth across the breadth of Naval Aviation: Aviation Intelligence (N2), Air wing integrated training (N5 - Strike), Airborne Command and Control Weapons Tactics Instructor Course (N6 - CAEWWS), Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor course (N7 - TOPGUN), Mountain flying and Seahawk Weapon Tactics Instructor course (N8 - SEAWOLF), Airborne Electronic Attack Weapons Tactics Instructor course (N10 - HAVOC) and the recently re-established Tomahawk Land Attack Missile (TLAM) Cell (N20 - TLAM)… TLAM was re-established in 2013 as a warfare department in Fallon as one way the Navy is attacking warfare integration, enhancing fleet-wide training continuum and providing advanced professionals through an academic investment (formal schooling) and a commitment to revision, development and validation of tactics techniques and procedures (TTPs).

Current operations

Directed by CNO and supported from United States Fleet Forces (USFF) , NSAWC re-established the TLAM cell to provide an authoritative command to revise, develop, and standardize strike TTPs. The TLAM cell employs the Mission Distribution System with embedded Tomahawk Planning System (MDS-eTPS), with Strike over Secret capabilities manned by surface and subsurface warfare qualified officers. The cell has established electronic connections to forward fleets, Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren, USFF, Cruise Missile Support Activities Atlantic and Pacific (CMSAL/P), and Tactical Training Group Atlantic and Pacific (TTGL/P) facilities with standing memorandums of understanding to request and receive analysis support from NAVAIR Program Office entities to support development, testing, standardization and analysis/validation of fleet driven TTPs. Using this equipment and standard NSAWC practices, the cell has established an integrated scenario that melds into the Aviation requirements air wings must complete. The syllabus, although in revision, is a large step beyond the previous interaction where TLAM was completely white carded.

CSG-9 Strike personnel integrate with Fallon air wing training monitoring locally planned TLAM strike packages and exercising Tomahawk Authority (TA) communications requirements with TTGP SLAMEX white cell. {photo: NSAWC public affairs MC1(SW/AW) R. David Valdez}

The TLAM changes and updates to NSAWC’s well-established Air Wing Fallon syllabus also provide the initial opportunity for Commander Strike Group TLAM individuals and Carrier Air wing Commander (CAG) strike leads, Deputy CAG, and CAG to learn each other’s specific piece of the Strike warfare puzzle prior to group sails, COMPTUEX, and JTFEX. For the enlisted TLAM team, 80 percent of all missions created to support Air Wing Fallon are completed using the MDS-eTPS automatic mission planning software. This requires the team to quickly understand basic mission planning and the capabilities and limitations of the systems to generate a tactically viable mission and build confidence that the software can build a mission with medium to high confidence of success depending on the threat environment. The CSG Strike officer attends the Strike Lead Advanced Training Syllabus (SLATS), given to the air wing personnel, which establishes the foundation for how the air wing conducts mission planning and executes strikes. Attending SLATS for a SWO or SUB qualified officer professionally broadens young junior officers, allows them to better understand TACAIR mission planning and fully participate in the Strike planning process. For strike leads, CAG and DCAG, it provides an early opportunity to expose any misconceptions, needed training points and friction points that occur when TLAM strikes are required/desired, creating stronger and more defined tactical and operational command and control relationships. Lastly, the early engagement highlights interaction points and Fleet-wide lessons learned required for success during future Tactical Training Group Atlantic or Pacific events, i.e. limited integrated airspace and waterspace de-confliction/command and control decisions points.

Future operations

The current model ensures effective employment of TLAM through standardized advanced and integrated training. TLAM’s continued combat readiness and proven operational excellence relies on our ability to enhance the employment of TLAM capabilities and assist in improving overall TLAM training.

Block IV missiles are currently being executed with a Block III mindset and Command and Control.

The capabilities of the Block IV are not clearly understood and/or exceed the tactical and strategic capabilities of recent adversaries giving TLAM a reputation ranging widely from incapable to invulnerable. Current training models compound the problem as training is not sufficiently updated enough to consistently employ the Tomahawk Command and Control system and Block IV capabilities. Overall mission planning (to include strike package generation) does not fully integrate the improved capabilities of the Block IV missile. The results are: Block IV missiles are used over just as capable Block III missiles (in some cases – the Block III is more capable), and Block IV specific capabilities are not enabled or integrated into planning where permissive environments exist. Additionally, the lack of integration of Block IV capabilities reduces the opportunities for Tasking Authorities and Strike Coordinators to employ Block IV post-launch execution (PLE) tactics in relatively benign to permissive environments thus building the tactical and technical expertise required for any engagement with a near peer competitor. In essence, the tactical warfighter is restrained from utilizing Block IV missile PLE due to a lack of overall trust in weapon system capabilities and/or understanding of what old and new capabilities afford the operational commander given a myriad of operational environments. This current employment environment persists despite a proven flight test record of more than a thousand of live firings and more than 400 test shots to include 67 Block IV missiles successfully flown in test flights that demonstrated 17 call for fire or redirections, and seven using the limited capabilities of automatic mission planning (six using launch platform mission planning (LPMP) and one using MDS-eTPS). To address moving TLAM employment forward - future TLAM cell tasks will include:

  • Enhance standardized TTP development and standardize strike execution to enable full utilization of the weapon system to provide the tactical warfighter greater flexibility and enable the Operational commander to hold at risk a larger target set under various operating conditions/environments.
  • Create true joint subject matter expertise to develop Joint long range strike mission planning/execution.
  • Provide an opportunity for Forward Fleets to conduct SLAMEX-style events with upcoming deployers and provide initial integration points and feedback. Early CSG integration throughout maintenance and basic phases.
  • Analyze and develop TTPs to support evolving missions i.e. Maritime Joint War at Sea, and re-locatable/mobile target time sensitive strikes supported using post launch execution tactics and techniques and/or emerging technology.

Figure 1 NSAWCs commitment to rapid TTP development through a standardized rigorous process continues to support the TLAM cell and propel fleet-wide standardization within Strike Warfare. NSAWC’s significant and close relationship with USFF, CPF, and clearly defined CCDR support, via established MOAs, enable a true fleet-wide perspective and encourage sharing best practices through informal and formal means. Figure 1 shows the concept of operation for the TLAM cell and focus. Surface Warfare Magazine

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