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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 helicopter-mounted 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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