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By Thomas Phippen
Arizona Republican Rep. Martha McSally says her efforts to save the Tomahawk missile program over the past few years allowed the U.S. Navy to complete the strikes on the Syrian airfield Thursday.
President Donald Trump’s air strike, which crippled the airfield in Syria, relied on one of the most advanced missiles in the U.S. arsenal, but the program was nearly canceled under the budget drawdowns over the past few years.
“I’m proud that I have successfully advocated in Congress to keep the Tomahawk missile line at Raytheon in Tucson open so that this weapon was ready and available when our armed forces needed it,” McSally said in a statement early Friday.
“Tonight the United States responded to the atrocities of the Assad regime with measured, yet decisive military action—launching approximately sixty Tomahawk missiles at the Syrian airbase used for recent chemical attacks,” McSally said.
Raytheon, the company that makes Tomahawk missiles, has its headquarters in Tucson, Ariz., part of McSally’s district.
Two U.S. Navy destroyers launched a total of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the airbase from the Mediterranean Sea. Each missile carries a 1,000-pound warhead, and costs approximately $832,000 per unit. (RELATED: Trump’s Syria Strike ‘Severely Damaged Or Destroyed’ Airbase)
The U.S. used to have thousands of Tomahawk missiles, but the stockpile has dwindled. Under former President Barack Obama, the Navy planned to phase out the Tomahawk missile program starting in 2014 during extensive military budget caps known as sequestration.
The Tomahawk missile program was supposed to be completely ended by 2016, but last minute budget negotiations last summer saved the program from being cut. McSally and fellow Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain successfully argued to include funding for the Tomahawk program in the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act during last summer’s budget negotiations.
“We’re very thankful to Sen. McCain on the Senate Armed Services Committee and Congresswoman McSally on the House Armed Services Committee for leading the charge to restore funding to programs like Tomahawk” missiles, Taylor Lawrence, president of Raytheon’s missile systems said last summer.