The TOW Missile-Precise and Powerful by ProQuest


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									                                                                                                               ARMY AL&T

                           The TOW Missile—
                           Precise and Powerful
                        Bill Ruta and C.L. “Claude” Higginbotham

“If there’s one weapon the insurgents don’t want to face in this fight, it is the
Tube-launched, Optically-tracked, Wire-guided [TOW] antitank missile launcher.
Accurate, powerful, and deadly, it is the biggest weapon in our platoon’s arsenal.
Some say the big wire-guided missile went out of fashion after we stopped
confronting enemies with heavy mechanized armor. I say otherwise: when it
comes to urban fighting, a TOW is a gift from the Pentagon gods.”

                     —House to House by SSG David Bellavia, 2nd Battalion (Bn),
                      2nd Infantry Regiment, regarding his time in Fallujah, Iraq,
                      with his Bradley Infantry squad.

A Soldier from Delta Co., 2nd Bn, 27th Infantry Regiment, 3rd BCT, 25th Infantry Division, assembles the ITAS TOW missile system
in Riyadh, Iraq. (U.S. Air Force photo by TSgt Maria J. Bare.)

                                                                                                    JULY–SEPTEMBER 2009            29
                    ARMY AL&T

  Since 1970, more than 650,000 TOW            TOW is a relatively simple weapon and                     Army Space and Missile Defense
  missiles have been produced. In the          very reliable. It is also relatively inex-                Command, numerous program
  last 5 years of per-                                              pensive compared to                  executive offices (PEOs), and major
  sistent conflict, the                                              many missile systems.                components of the Defense Intelligence
  U.S. Army and                    TOW is the world’s               This combination of                  Agency and the Missile Defense
  U.S. Marine Corps                premier heavy anti-              reliability, effective-              Agency, to study the technical feasi-
  (USMC) have fired                                                  ness, and affordability              bility of the emerging heavy antitank/
  almost 9,500 TOW
                                    armor and assault               has made it a success-               assault weapon system requirements
  missiles. While there              weapon system,                 ful weapon system                    for the Army. In 1964, the first TOW
  have been many                   consisting of crew-              overall. Continuing                  Project Management Office (PMO)
  weapon systems                                                    TOW enhancements                     was established at Redstone. The first
  developed and pro-                portable ground,                provide an afford-                   TOW missile was fielded in 1970.
  duced over the last 4          vehicle-mounted, and               able path to the
  to 5 decades, TOW                                                 future of U.S. preci-                For almost 45 years, Redstone’s TOW
  remains an extremely                                              sion close combat                    PMO and its successors have been
  effective weapon sys-          launcher variants, and             weapons. Almost 5                    responsible for managing TOW devel-
  tem, especially given            10 missile versions.         
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