US Navy's first-ever land-based Tomahawk missile unit officially activated

The United States Marines Corp has officially stepped up its new Battery A, 11th regiment armed with land-based Tomahawk cruise missile launchers.
Christopher McFadden
The Marine's new battery is expected to be based on ROGUE-Fires unmanned prototype.

Oshkosh Defense 

The United States Navy has officially activated its first-ever land-based Tomahawk cruise missile-armed unit.

Designated Battery A, 11th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, the unit was inaugurated during a ceremony on July 21. The new battery has been created to improve the long-range strike capabilities of the division and the joint force. Its purpose is to eventually increase sea denial capability and lethality.

Land-based Tomahawk battery

“It is truly a privilege and honor to stand with these Marines as we move forward with the long-range fires capability,” said Capt. Justin Hillebrand, who became the battery’s first commander during the ceremony. He further added: “These Marines have done phenomenal things. They took an idea and are making it work. The job just started, but this capability will be able to reach out and provide devastating and lethal fires."

According to Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS), the battery will undergo training using long-range fire launchers, which are designed to fire Tomahawk cruise missiles, along with other supporting assets.

The aim of this training is to improve the structure and requirements needed for effective utilization of the system. The Marines from the battery, together with the leadership of the 11th Marines, will work on perfecting the tactics, techniques, and procedures needed to employ the long-range fire system in support of initiatives for 1st MARDIV and I Marine Expeditionary Force.

“This is a historic chapter in the Marine Corps and the 11th Marine Regiment. The American people expect the Marine Corps to prepare for war,” added Col. Patrick Eldridge, the commanding officer for the 11th Marines. “There are nefarious states and actors in our world today who are credible threats to their neighbors, to our allies, and to the United States. The requirement for this capability now exists and the SecDef turned to the Marine Corps, the Marine Corps turned to 11th Marines, and we turn to Alpha Battery and our test and evaluation partners to make this capability a reality," he said.

The Marine Corps is currently developing a ground-based anti-ship missile system, which includes the emerging long-range fires platform. This capability is gradually expanding within the service. Col. Eldridge concluded his activation ceremony remarks on a lighter note adding, “I imagine someone pretty high up said, ‘We’ve seen what Marines can do with rifles, let’s see what Marines can do with Tomahawks.’”

Currently, "the first LMSL battery... is working to refine tactics, techniques, and procedures associated with the employment of this unique capability," Cathy Close, a Marine Corps spokesperson told The Drive. "We expect the [LMSL] battalion to reach full operational capability no later than fiscal year 2030," she added. Additionally, Close clarified that the LMSL battalion will consist of three LMSL batteries. The exact number of launchers and other systems within each battery was not disclosed.

Unmanned vehicle platform

Currently, the Marine Corps intends to use the same unmanned 4x4 vehicle for the LMSL battery's primary weapon system as the one being acquired as a launch platform for the Naval Strike Missile (NSM). This vehicle is called the Remotely Operated Ground Unit Expeditionary-Fires (ROGUE-Fires) and is based on the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV).

There is also scope for such systems to be armed with other weapons in the future too. "It is possible, with significant additional investment, that the LMSL launchers, fire control, missile handling systems, and crew training could be modified to employ other missile systems," Close told The Drive.

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