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TOW 2

Anti-tank guided missile

TOW 2 anti-tank missile

The TOW 2 is still a very capable system, even though it is more than 30 years old

 
 
BGM-71D
Country of origin United States
Entered service 1983
Missile
Armor penetration 900 mm
Range 3.75 km
Missile length 1.53 m
Missile diameter 0.15 m
Fin span 0.46 m
Missile weight 21.4 kg
Warhead weight 5.9 kg
Warhead type HEAT
Guidance Wire-guided

 

   The TOW 2 is a heavy anti-tank missile. It is an upgraded version of the previous TOW. It entered service with the US Army in 1983. This weapon system is composed of new and more capable BGM-71D missile, new reusable launcher, missile guidance set, and sight system. The launcher is lighter. It is compatible with all previous TOW missiles. It has thermal optics and can be used at night. Over 77 000 BGM-71D anti-tank guided missiles were produced. The TOW 2 missile is available in several versions. This anti-tank guided missile system was exported to a number of countries outside the United States. In 1987, Pakistan launched TOW 2 missiles against Indian forces. In 1997 the Hughes Aircraft Company was taken over by Raytheon. So development and production of this anti-tank missile now comes under Raytheon brand.

   The TOW 2 proved to be a very effective weapon. It remains a very capable anti-tank system, despite the fact that this weapon is nearly 40 years old.

   In the basic infantry form the TOW launcher is mounted on a portable tripod. The missile is carried in a sealed container. It is clipped to the launcher before the launch. The TOW 2 system is serviced by a crew of three soldiers, including commander, gunner and assistance gunner. The launcher can be disassembled and transported by the crew. In the US Army the TOW 2 launchers are typically used by separate anti-tank companies for heavy anti-armor work.

   The BGM-71D missile has a larger warhead (5.9 kg) over the previous BGM-71C. Also it has a longer extensible probe, as well as improved guidance. Furthermore it has a more powerful motor, which provides around 30% more thrust. The BGM-71D penetrates 900 mm of steel armor. That was significant improvement over BGM-71C, which could penetrate 630 mm of steel armor.

   The baseline BGM-71D missile is wire-guided. This weapon has semi-automatic guidance. It is not a fire-and-forget type weapon. It requires the shooter to keep the target in the line of sight until the missile impacts. Once the missile is launched the optical sensor on the sight continuously monitors the position of missile in relation to the target. The sensor corrects the trajectory of the missile by sending electrical signals that are passed on by two wires. The communication by wires with the missile can not be jammed by the enemy. The latest versions of the TOW 2, starting from the TOW 2A are wireless, however these newer missiles are also produced in a wire-guided form. These newer wireless missiles require no special alterations to the launcher.

   The TOW 2 launcher is widely carried on various vehicles, and even helicopters. It can be mounted on HMMWVs. Also there are dedicated anti-tank missile carriers, such as M1134, which is based on a Stryker wheeled armored personnel carrier and carries launcher with anti-tank guided missiles.

 

Variants

 

   BGM-71D is a baseline missile of the TOW 2 system. It has a range of 3 750 m and penetrates 900 mm of steel armor. It entered service in 1983.

   TOW 2A or BGM-71E. It appeared in 1987. It has a tandem warhead and was specially designed to defeat tanks with Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA). It has a range of 3 750 m and penetrates 900 mm of steel armor behind ERA. The latest versions of the TOW 2, starting from the TOW 2A are produced both in wireless and wire-guided forms. The wireless missiles require no special alterations to the launcher. Over 34 000 of these missiles have been delivered. In 2003 these missiles were used by US Marines in Iraq, destroying several Iraqi T-72 tanks.

   TOW 2B or BGM-71F is a top-attack missile. It appeared in 1987. This missile explodes above the tank to penetrate its thin top armor. In concept it is similar to a Swedish RBS 56 BILL. It has a maximum range of 4 200 m. Its warhead weights 6.14 kg. This missile lacks extensible probe. These anti-tank missiles are produced in wireless and wire-guided forms. First unit was equipped with these missiles in 1992. In 2003 these missiles, alongside with the TOW 2As were used by US Marines in Iraq, destroying several Iraqi T-72 tanks. The conflict marked the first operational firing of the TOW 2B missiles. However during combat in Afghanistan the TOW 2B was found to be less effective than the older TOW 2A.

   TOW 2N was an improved anti-tank system, that used missile with wireless data link. It appeared in 1989. However this weapon was not adopted by the US military.

   BGM-71G is a top-attack missile with different warhead. It lacks extensible probe.

   BGM-71H is a bunker-busting missile. It is used against buildings or fortified structures. This missile has a range of 3 750 m. This missile is produced in wireless and wire-guided forms.

   TOW 2B Aero is an extended-range version with a maximum range of 4 500 m. Previously this weapon was known as TOW 2B (ER). This missile is produced in wireless and wire-guided forms.

 

 

TOW 2 anti-tank missile

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TOW 2 anti-tank missile

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TOW 2 anti-tank missile

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TOW 2 anti-tank missile

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TOW 2 anti-tank missile

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TOW 2 anti-tank missile

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TOW 2 anti-tank missile

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