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Wiesel 1 TOW

Anti-tank missile carrier

Wiesel 1 TOW

The Wiesel anti-tank missile carrier is used by the German airborne troops

 
 
Country of origin Germany
Entered service 1990
Crew 3
Dimensions and weight
Weight 2.8 t
Length 3.26 m
Width 1.87 m
Height 1.87 m
Missile
Missile length 1.16 - 1.53 mm
Missile diameter 0.15 mm
Fin span 0.46 mm
Missile weight 18.9 ~ 22 kg
Warhead weight 2.63 - 6.14 kg
Warhead type HEAT / Tandem HEAT
Range of fire (depending on the missile) 3 - 4.2 km
Guidance Wire-guided / Wireless
Number of missiles carried 6
Mobility
Engine Volkswagen diesel
Engine power 86 hp
Maximum road speed 85 km/h
Range 300 km
Maneuverability
Gradient 60%
Side slope 30%
Vertical step 0.4 m
Trench 1.2 m
Fording 0.5 m
Fording (with preparation) Amphibious

 

   In 1982 the West German airborne units adopted a Wiesel 1 airportable armored vehicle. This armored vehicle was designed by Porsche. This small armored vehicle could be used for various roles. However there were two most common versions of in service with the German army - the reconnaissance and fire support vehicle, armed with a 20 mm cannon and anti-tank missile carrier armed with a TOW anti-tank missile launcher. The Wiesel 1 was produced since 1990 until 1992-1993. A total of 210 of these missile carriers were obtained by the German army. Even though in 2001 Germans adopted an improved Wiesel 2, its anti-tank missile carrier version was not selected for production. German military still relies on its Wiesel 1 anti-tank missile carriers with TOW missiles. Furthermore there are plans to operate these vehicles until  2030. This anti-tank missile carrier was never exported.

   The Wiesel 1 is an airportable vehicle, that was designed to be carried by military transport aircraft. It can be airdropped. Furthermore it can be carried internally by large helicopters. The CH-53 can transport two Wiesels internally.  It can be also carried by helicopters underslung.

   Protection of the Wiesel is rather limited due to its light weight of less than 3 t. Its armor provides protection for the crew only against small arms fire and artillery shell splinters. This vehicle also lacks NBC protection system.

   This missile carrier is equipped with a TOW anti-tank guided missiles launcher and uses wire-guided missiles. This weapon has semi-automatic guidance. It requires a gunner to keep the target in the line of sight until the missile impacts. The launcher is equipped with an AN/TAS-4A  thermal imager which is used for day and night firing.

   The Wiesel anti-tank missile carrier can use older TOW missiles, as well as newer and more capable TOW 2 missiles. Some of the TOW missiles are wireless, but use the same launcher. Some of the TOW series missiles are listed below:

   BGM-71A is a baseline TOW missile with a range of 3 km. It penetrates 430 mm of steel armor. This missile first appeared in 1970, long before the introduction of the Wiesel anti-tank missile carrier.

   BGM-71B is an improved missile with a range of 3.75 km. It penetrates 430 mm of steel armor.

   BGM-71C has a range of 3.75 km and penetrates 630 mm of steel armor. This missile appeared in 1976.

   BGM-71D is a baseline TOW 2 missile. It has a range of 3.75 km and has improved guidance. It penetrates 900 mm of steel armor. This missile appeared in 1983.

   BGM-71E has a tandem HEAT warhead, designed to defeat tanks with Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA). It has a range of 3.75 km and penetrates 900 mm of steel armor behind ERA. This missile appeared in 1987.

   BGM-71F is a top-attack missile, which explodes above the tank to penetrate its thin top armor. It has a maximum range of 4.2 km. This missile appeared in 1987.

   BGM-71G is another top-attack missile with a different warhead.

   BGM-71H is a bunker-busting missile. It is used against buildings or various fortified structures. This missile has a range of 3.75 km. This missile is produced in wireless and wire-guided forms.

   It is unknown if all of these US missiles were used on the Wiesel anti-tank missile carrier, or weather Germans used and continue to use only some of these missiles. Still though despite is small size the Wiesel is an extremely capable anti-tank vehicle.

   The missile launcher can be removed from the vehicle and used as a standalone weapon. So the crew can leave the vehicle and use the launcher on a standard tripod.

   This anti-tank missile carrier carries 6 missiles. Five missiles are stored inside the vehicle and another one is carried externally at the rear of the vehicle. One more missile could be loaded in to the launcher. This would increase ammunition load to 7 missiles.

   Interestingly this small anti-tank missile carrier can be escorted by an associated resupply vehicle - another Wiesel, which carries reload missiles.

   Initially this anti-tank missile carrier had no secondary armament. A 7.62 mm machine gun was added for self-defense on upgraded vehicles.

   Despite is small size this vehicle has a crew of 3, including vehicle commander, who operates the launcher, driver, and loader.

   There were also prototypes of the Wiesel 1 fitted with HOT anti-tank missiles. One of them had an UTM 800 turret. It had retractable mast with sensors and 2 launchers with missiles. The HOT missiles are significantly more powerful than the TOW and have longer range.

   The Wiesel 1 is powered by a Volkswagen 2.1-liter diesel engine, developing 86 horsepower. It was a standard commercially-available car engine. Engine and transmission of the Wiesel can be replaced in field conditions within 15 minutes. Despite its appearance the Wiesel is rather fast. It can reach a top speed of 85 km/h. Vehicle has good cross-country performance due to its low weight, tracked configuration and low ground pressure. Flotation kit can be fitted in order to cross rivers and lakes. On water this vehicle is powered by its tracks.

 

Variants

 

   Wiesel 1A1 TOW is an upgraded version, fitted with a 7.62 mm general purpose machine gun as a secondary armament.

   Wiesel 1A2 TOW is a further upgraded version. In 2006 the Wiesel 1A1 TOW was additionally fitted with German military's battlefield information system.

 

 
Wiesel 1 TOW

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Wiesel 1 TOW

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Wiesel 1 TOW

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Wiesel 1 TOW

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Wiesel 1 TOW

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Wiesel 1 TOW

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Wiesel 1 TOW

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Wiesel 1 TOW

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Wiesel 1 TOW

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