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USS Tunny launching a Regulus I in 1958

A submarine-launched cruise missile (SLCM) is a cruise missile that is launched from a submarine (especially a SSG or SSGN). Current versions are typically standoff weapons which are used to attack predetermined land targets with conventional or nuclear payloads. Brahmos is the fastest missile currently developed.

Four US Navy ballistic missile submarines were converted to be able to salvo launch up to 144 Tomahawk cruise missiles from their modified vertical launch SLBM tubes as opposed to launching cruise missiles from torpedo tubes as is done from attack submarines. The advantage that the submarines have over guided missile destroyers and cruisers is the ability to remain undetected and launch while submerged.

The previous US Navy cruise missile submarines (4 SSG and 1 SSGN) deployed with the Regulus missile from 1958 until retired in 1964 with the arrival of the Polaris missile submarines in the Pacific.

Jane's Defence Weekly reports that the Dolphin-class submarines are believed to be nuclear armed, offering Israel a sea based second strike capability. In adherence to Missile Technology Control Regime rules the US Clinton administration refused an Israeli request in 2000 to purchase Tomahawk long range SLCMs. The Federation of American Scientists and GlobalSecurity.org report that the four larger torpedo tubes are capable of launching Israeli built nuclear-armed Popeye Turbo cruise missiles[1]

The Soviet Union and later Russia designed and operated Echo, Charlie, Whiskey, Juliett, and currently Oscar submarines to carry and launch conventional and nuclear cruise missiles.

The fore section of a US attack submarine with the doors of the vertical launch system for Tomahawk missiles in the open position

Specific types of SLCMs include:

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References[edit | edit source]

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