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Military Capabilities

Naval missile barrage anchors Syrian attack

14 April 2018
Guided-missile cruiser USS Monterery was one of the USN ships that launched missiles against Syrian chemical weapons sites. Source: US Navy

US, British, and French forces bombarded Syrian sites connected to the country’s chemical weapons programme in a predawn attack on 14 April, with most of the missiles coming from naval assets.

At least 69 of the 105 weapons launched on three Syrian sites came from naval forces, according to US Joint Staff Director Lieutenant General Kenneth McKenzie, who spoke to the media during a Pentagon briefing on 14 April.

The ship laying claim to the largest number of missile launches was USS Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey (CG 61), which fired 30 US Navy (USN) Tomahawk land attack missiles (TLAMs) from the Red Sea, Lt Gen McKenzie said.

It is yet unclear what version of the cruise missile was used, but the latest is the RGM/UGM-109E Block IV Tactical Tomahawk (TacTom) with an 869.3 n miles (1,610 km) maximum range and a 690 lb (313 kg) HE WDU-36/B semi-armour piercing warhead.

Monterey departed Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia in October for a surge deployment to the US 5th and US 6th Fleet areas of operation.

The ship is no stranger to the region. The ship’s Aegis combat system was enhanced to perform better ballistic-missile defence (BMD) and it was the first USN ship deployed in the Mediterranean in 2011 as part of the nation’s BMD Phased Adaptive Approach.

Also located in the Red Sea for the attack, Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer Laboon (DDG 58) fired seven TLAMs, Lt Gen McKenzie said.

Another Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, USS Higgins (DDG 76), fired 23 TLAMs from its location in the North Arabian Gulf, Lt Gen McKenzie said.

The other USN warship to fire TLAMs was the Virginia-attack submarine (SSN) USS John Warner (SSN 785), which launched six missiles from the Mediterranean Sea, Lt Gen McKenzie said.

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