Why Tomahawk Missiles Are Still the Better Option Compared to Hypersonics in an All-Out War

Tomahawk missiles are extraordinarily lethal and, in large numbers, can overcome the air defense systems of any country – and they are incredibly cost-effective compared to hypersonic missiles.
USS Curtis Wilbur Tomahawk Launch

The US military has been working on hypersonic weapons for years, and they will play a significant role in future conflicts… But for now, it seems like cheaper missiles like Tomahawks are the best option for fighting military powers such as Russia and China.

Actually, Tomahawk missiles might be better than hypersonic weapons in terms of their ability to penetrate Russian and Chinese air defenses. They are cost-effective and easy to deploy and would provide the same result as a hypersonic missile attack.

Hypersonic missiles are not a one size fits all solution

200319-N-NO101-0001 by Luke Lamborn. Public Domain.

Tomahawks could definitely be more effective in a conflict with Russia or China than expensive hypersonic weapons.


Hypersonic missiles are capable of traveling at incredibly high speeds, making them difficult to intercept. They travel at speeds greater than Mach 5 – and current defense systems have no way to stop a missile at this speed.

This makes them ideal for attacking an enemy country with little warning. So, the potential for these weapons to cause massive damage is tremendous.

However, these missiles are also very expensive to produce, and there are currently only a limited number of countries that have the capability to develop and deploy them.


Tomahawk missiles cost $2 million, and a hypersonic missile costs at least $106. Therefore, launching two hypersonic missiles would cost more than $200 million… And with that amount, the US could launch 100 Tomahawks.

No defense system would be able to stop 100 missiles simultaneously. It would result in the absolute destruction of its target.

So, hypersonic missiles are likely to remain a niche technology in the near future. While their potential is great, it is unclear whether they will ever become a widespread weapon due to their high cost and limited availability.


Modern air defense systems can’t stop an overwhelming attack with tomahawk missiles

Tomahawk Missle Launch
Tomahawk Missle Launch by U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa. Public Domain.

Tomahawk missiles are one of the most common types of missiles in the US military. They are deadly and effective while being cheaper than hypersonic missiles.

This suggests that hypersonic missiles may be a significant deterrent. But they also don’t seem like a weapon that should be used regularly.

Modern air defense systems are very effective at stopping single missiles or small groups of missiles. However, they would be powerless to stop a large-scale attack with tomahawk missiles.


Patriot Missile System operates in Croatia
Patriot Missile System operates in Croatia by Alexandra Shea. Public Domain.

Even top defense systems such as the Russian S-400 or the American Patriot won’t stop a massive Tomahawk attack.

For this reason, an attack with a hypersonic missile is not essential to overcome these defensive systems. With dozens of Tomahawk missiles, any attack would even make more damage at a lower price.

Tomahawk missiles are still relevant in the age of hypersonic missiles

The US will deploy its new hypersonic missiles in the coming years. But it doesn’t mean that Tomahawk missiles will cease to be relevant.


In fact, they are probably still the best choice for sustained strikes – and although their capabilities are outmatched by the Hypersonic missiles, the effectiveness and lower price of the Tomahawk make them the first choice for a long-range strike.

Featured image credit: USS Curtis Wilbur Tomahawk Launch by Taylor M DiMartino. Public Domain.