The footage was obtained during a test flight of the Tomahawk Cruise Missile over the White Sands Missile Range on 31 January 1977.
The footage was obtained during a test flight of the Tomahawk Cruise Missile over the White Sands Missile Range on 31 January 1977. The purpose of this flight test was to demonstrate the accuracy of a dual mode guidance set which used a Scene Matching Area Correlation system to supplement the Terrain Contour Matching System.
The footage was made by a motion picture camera shooting at 24 frames per second. The camera was equipped with a wide angle lens and located on the lower tail of the missile, positioned so that it would pick up the lower portion of the air inlet and the terrain during low level flight.
A U.S. Navy Tomahawk cruise missile, equipped for the first time with a dual mode guidance system, successfully demonstrated precision accuracy against a simulated ground target.
Pinpoint accuracy was achieved through terminal homing to the target provided by a prototype version of a Navy-developed Scene Matching Area Correlation (SMAC) system.
Terminal accuracy of the SMAC system supplements the Tomahawk's Terrain Countour Matching (TERCOM) Guidance system which guides the missile to a designed geographic location. The TERCOM system compares measured terrain heights stored in an on-board computer and corrects the missile's course and altitude based upon the navigation fix obtained.
The TERCOM also navigated the Navy A-6 Intruder launch aircraft from the Pacific Missile Test Centre in California to the Tomahawk launch point over White Sands, New Mexico.
In this test, the SMAC system applied a photographic method to refine the final TERCOM update and zero the missile in on the target. The Tomahawk also flew terrain avoidance maneuvers at varying altitudes during the one hour and 18 minute mission.
The Tomahawk cruise missile is being developed for the Navy by General Dynamics Convair Division in San Diego, California. McDonnell Douglas Astronautics Company in St. Louis, Missouri, is developing the guidance system.