TOW

The US Army has been aggressively upgrading and improving its inventory of fielded weapons to maintain its edge on the evolving battlefield.

The latest move in these efforts is their recent $101.3 million award to Raytheon Land Warfare Systems for tube-launched, optically tracked, wireless-guided missiles for the TOW (Tube-launched, Optically tracked, Wire-guided) weapon system. The TOW, which is used by over fifty countries, was originally guided by a thin control wire. Beginning in 2010 a wireless guidance capability was introduced using a one-way radio link. The missiles are compatible with existing launchers without modification.

The TOW missile is the long-range precision, heavy anti-tank and assault weapon system used by the US Army Stryker, Bradley Fighting Vehicle, ITAS High-Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle and Light Armoured Vehicle-anti-tank platforms. The wireless guidance coupled with propulsion improvements allows the TOW to effectively engage targets to 4500 meters. The wireless missile is offered in variants with different warheads including the BMG-71A direct attack shaped charge, the BGM-71D that uses a top-down attack with an explosively formed penetrator and BGM-71E ‘bunker buster’ for use against structures.

With additional improvements also being developed by Raytheon the TOW missile system is projected to remain in US Army and US Marine Corps service through 2050. In October 2018 the Army issued a $21 million contract to develop a new propulsion system which is projected to be available for final test and potential production by 2021. The company also provides the latest and most advanced TOW sight for the ITAS with second-generation forward-looking infrared sensors, laser rangefinder and an integrated Far-Target Location (FTL) capability.

by Stephen W. Miller