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$251 Million Tomahawk Missile Contract Will Require Silver

Raytheon Co. received a $251 million contract from the US Navy to make Tomahawk Block IV tactical cruise missiles for fiscal year 2014 with an option for 2015, which, according to some, means a lot of silver will soon be needed.

Although much of the discussion surrounding the true composition of the Tomahawk missile is speculative, a boisterous group claims that 480 ounces of silver (16kg) is needed per cruise missile.

Raytheon will build and deliver Tomahawk Block IV cruise missiles to the US Navy and the UK Royal Navy. Raytheon is charged with conducting flight tests and providing life-cycle support. Production and delivery of the Tomahawk missiles is set to begin in 2015.

The Tomahawk’s range is more than 1,000 miles and is integrated on all major US surface combatants and US and UK submarines. If silver is used in these missiles, a lot of silver will be needed to fulfill this contract. But the exact numbers are fuzzy.

Military applications aggregated are for sure a considerable user of industrial silver. There are lots of electrical functions for the tomahawk, such as gps, satellite tracking, terrain mapping, powerful antennaes, etc…

Tomahawk missiles have a max distance of 1,500 miles. They travel between 500-600 mph, implying a rough flight time of three hours. As one poster on Kitco’s forums puts it:

3 hours of high-tech electronics, powerful antennaes, mapping, rock-solid radar & communication with satellites, all at crazy altitudes and distance/velocity… Double that time to account for battery loss and aging. Why not just quadruple it so that it *never* presents a problem. 12 hour flight time capable would be overbuilt for sure. This is a military warhead though, so overbuilt is probably the status quo.


The Control Section of the missile contains the Silver Zinc battery power supply and launch aircraft captive power supply, the strapdown inertial package and the electromechanical servoes used to actuate the wings, the aircraft electrical interface and the active optical proximity fusing system. The flight control employs roll stabilisation by differential actuation of the wings, which also provide pitch/yaw control. The wings are constructed as a steel casting with a honeycomb trailing edge.

We’ll likely never know the true amount of silver used in military applications, but here’s to hoping one day there’s no more demand from this sector.

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