The Navy plans to stop ordering new Tomahawk cruise missiles beyond the 100 requested for fiscal 2016 while not ruling out the possibility of buying more, and will take a second look at the issue when it prepares its 2017 budget request, Navy acquisition chief Sean Stackley said this week.

A Tomahawk taking to the skies. Photo: U.S. Navy
A Tomahawk taking to the skies. Photo: U.S. Navy

The Navy is stopping buys of the Raytheon [RTN]-built Tomahawk as it looks to develop a next-generation land-attack missile, but Stackley said that because of some of the risks associated with developing a new system, the service will evaluate whether more Tomahawks will be needed.

The Navy is still in the early stages of developing the requirement for the new missile.

“There is risk associated with the next-generation land-attack missile,” Stackley said during testimony to the seapower panel of the Senate Armed Services Committee Wednesday.

“We’ve got to ensure that is stable before we simply truncate production of our cruise missiles,” he added. “This will be revisited in the” fiscal 2017 review, he said.

The next-generation ship-based cruise missile for striking land targets is scheduled to be operational in 2024, and the Navy is confident it has enough Tomahawks to carry it through that timeframe.

However, Stackley acknowledged there are concerns about the health of smaller companies that supply critical parts to Raytheon, and said the Navy is working closely with the defense firm to identify gaps and vulnerabilities.

Stackley said a report to Congress about the next missile that was due in early February should be completed within about 30 days. He said the delay is due to the process of defining the requirements and determining whether a new land-attack cruise-missile could be leveraged for a maritime strike capability.

Sitting beside Stackley, Vice Adm. Joseph Mulloy, the deputy chief of naval operations for integration of capabilities and resources, said that the Tomahawks are entering a recertification and upgrades program that will keep them capable while at the same time provide work at Raytheon’s Tucson, Ariz., production facility through 2019.

Raytheon has previously expressed concerns that halting production of the Tomahawks could impact the recertification process because it could hurt smaller suppliers and leave them unable to provide any new required parts.