Saturday, December 4, 2010

BGM-71 and BGM-71M Tube-launched Anti Armor Weapons

BGM-71 Tube-launched and BGM-71M Tube-launched

Raytheon’s BGM-71 Tube-launched, Optically-tracked, Wire-guided (TOW) has become the most prolific long range ATGW in service with more than 650,000 produced for the US Army, the US Marine Corps (USMC) and 43 export customers since its first appearance on the battlefields of Vietnam in 1972. The US Army has purchased 163,992 TOW missiles to date including 8,400 missiles in Fiscal Year 2009 (FY09); a further 1,200 missiles were produced for the USMC in FY09 and 2,017 for Foreign Military Sales (FMS) customers (Egypt and Spain).

BGM-71 Tube-launched
FMS customers the previous year included Canada (1,766), Egypt (2,028), Korea (214), Kuwait (1,960) and Pakistan (3,198). In FY10 the US Army plans to buy 1,165 missiles using ‘base funding’ and a further 1,294 missiles using Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding. In US service TOW missiles are now primarily launched from ground platforms: light forces are equipped with the Improved Target Acquisition System (ITAS) and the M220A2 launcher mounted on the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle; all variants of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle System used by the Army’s Heavy Brigade Combat Teams are equipped with a twin TOW launcher; and, the new medium Stryker brigade combat teams (SBCTs) are equipped with the General Dynamics Land Systems M1134 Stryker Anti-Tank Guided Missile vehicle.

Six SBCTs have already been formed, a seventh is now being equipped and in September 2009 the Army announced that two additional brigades would be raised. Integral to each SBCT is an antiarmour company organised into three antiarmour platoons each with three Stryker ATGM vehicles equipped with an elevating
twin TOW missile launcher. When it became apparent that technical problems associated with the externally-mounted 105mm gun and autoloader on the M1128 Mobile Gun System would delay the vehicle’s entry into
service, the Army funded the development of the BGM-71H TOW Bunker Buster warhead to provide the SBCTs with an interim capability during their initial deployments to Iraq to engage targets in urban areas and
punch holes through walls.

BGM-71M Tube-launched
Under the management of the Army’s Program Executive Office – Tactical Missiles the project was conducted as an accelerated 12 month joint government/contractor effort to develop a warhead that could be fitted on modified TOW 2A missiles thus maintaining the weapon’s 3,750 m range and other flight characteristics. The first production contract, awarded in June 2005, covered 50 missiles for qualification testing, 50 for further field testing and 500 operational missiles. In common with other TOW missiles the high
explosive (HE) filled titanium chisel-point BGM-71H warhead is produced by Aerojet of Sacramento, California. The project leveraged work that was done in developing a blast-fragmentation warhead for the army’s helicopter-launched Lockheed Martin Hellfire long range ATGW.

 The TOW BB missile can be supplied in the new TOW 2B Aero configuration which extends the missile’s range from 3,750 m to 4,500 m and the TOW 2B Aero Gen 2 configuration which replaces the TOW’s command-wire guidance system with a radio frequency system and also extends the range to 4,500 m.


• “Fly-over and shoot-down” missile, two explosively formed penetrator warheads.
• Defeats advanced armor.
• Dual-mode sensor, new armament section equipped with two warheads.
• Complementary weapon to TOW 2A.

• Improved target detection, recognition, and engagement.
• Integrated second-generation imaging forward-looking infrared with the optical sight, laser rangefi nder, automatic tracking.

• Bunker defeat capability, breaches 8-inch double reinforced masonry.
• 500 TOW BB missiles deployed in support of Stryker BCTs in OIF.
• Available to all BCTs in 2009.
• TOW’s sole source wire vendor exits market.

TOW 2B Aero
• Increased maximum range to 4.5 km by adding wire and aerodynamic nose.

• Army contracted production of new wireless TOW 2B RF missile.
• More than 17,000 TOW missiles with RF guidance link have been placed on contract for U.S. Army,
USMC, and allied nations.

Introduction of ITAS with FTL capability
• Four ITAS-FTL fi elded to 173rd Infantry AB BCT in Afghanistan.
• Four ITAS-FTL fi elded to border patrol to support homeland defense.
• FY08 3rd quarter—offi cial fi elding of ITAS-FTL to Army and USMC units begins.

USMC Cpl Joshua Logsdon, Battle Landing Team 22, Combined Anti-Armor Team, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, looks through a sight on a TOW missile mounted on top of a HMMWV during a vehicle and weapons static display at Camp Lemonier, Djibouti. The M220A4 TOW launcher is being replaced with ITAS in both the Army and USMC. (U.S. Air Force photo by A1C Bryan Boyette.)


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