BGM-71F TOW 2B
Initial Operational Capability (IOC):
Also Known As: TOW 2B Aero, TOW 2B Aero Gen 2 and TOW-2B
Origin: United States of America
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Description: The BGM-71 TOW (Tube-launched, Optically-tracked and Wire-guided) missiles are designed to accurately destroy armored vehicles, fortifications and bunkers from safe ranges. Raytheon has produced more than 600,000 TOW missiles over the last 30 years for more than 40 international armed forces around the globe. The TOW missiles have been integrated in more than 15,000 ground vehicles and helicopters.
The TOW was introduced in 1970 and can be fired by the infantry (4 men) using a tripod, ground vehicles (HMMWV, M2) and helicopters (AH-1 Cobra). It is a wire guided weapon with a range in excess of 3,000 meters. The TOW's CLU (Command Launch Unit) allows operations in all weather day or night conditions, after the firing the gunner must keep the sight on the target to ensure the impact.
The TOW missile was widely used during the Vietnam (1970s) war, the Iran-Iraq (1980-88) war, the Desert Storm (1991) operation and most recently during the Iraqi Freedom (2003) operation.
The BGM-71F TOW2B was delivered in 1992 featuring increased lethality against armored battle tanks. The TOW2B missile attacks tanks from the top where the tank's armor is weak.
TOW2B also features a dual mode sensor and is equipped with two new warheads. It flies over the top of the tank to destroy it from above. The two Explosively Formed Penetrator warheads explode downward reaching immediately the tank's roof.
The TOW 2B missile has not been designed to replace TOW 2A, but to complement TOW2A offering the US military forces multiple choices to engage different targets.
In early 2002 Raytheon announced that the range of the TOW 2B was extended beyond 4,000 meters through changes in the missile's propulsion system and airframe. The TOW 2B Aero has a maximum range of 4,500 meters.
The TOW Bunker Buster is a special derivative equipped with a new warhead capable of breeching more than eight inches (20 cm) of reinforced concrete. The Bunker Buster missile is well suited for urban warfare.
There were plans about fielding a new fire and forget TOW derivative in the 2005-2010 timeframe, but due to lack of funds and DoD's statements a sixth generation TOW seems to be unlikely.
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