TOW Missile Improvements


Wireless TOW (ER)

A fifth generation of the TOW family, TOW-ER also known as TOW AERO provides significant operational advantages above the latest TOW-2B version. Among the improvements are improved aerodynamic profile and elimination of guidance wires, enabling target engagements beyond 4.5 km. The aerodynamic improvements maintain higher velocity throughout the flight which enables the missile to cover the longer distance at almost the same time (21 seconds) as it required to fly to its previous max. range of 3.75 km. The wire guidance system is replaced by a radio command link. The new guidance system is immune to IR countermeasures which could be used by enemy tanks. Both upgrades can be performed on the TOW-2B missile and offer savings of 20-40% compared to new acquisitions. The US Army is testing the modified missile and has funded procurement of the wireless TOW 2B version through fiscal years 2007 – 2009.

Because the wireless system is built into the missile and the missile case, the wireless TOW works with existing launch platforms – including the Improved Target Acquisition System, Improved Bradley Acquisition Subsystem, TOW 2 Subsystem and M220 Ground TOW. The system performs exactly as the wire-guided version, enabling soldiers to continue using the proven weapon without changing tactics or incurring additional training. TOW remains the Army and Marine Corps’ primary heavy anti-tank and precision assault weapon deployed on more than 4,000 TOW launch platforms including the Army “Stryker,” Bradley Fighting Vehicle System and High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle. On October 10, 2006 the US Army awarded Raytheon a first procurement program for the Wireless TOW. In December 2006Pakistan was reported to plan to convert 121 TOW launchers introducing wireless guidance, replacing the older BGM 71 with the over 3,000 TOW 2A missiles.

TOW Bunker Buster

With upgrades for the veteran TOW II missiles are underway, Raytheon is promoting a new modification, featuring the Bunker-Buster version of the TOW, which recently “spiraled out” of the TOW program. TOW missiles are undergoing improvements that will maintain them in service through 2025. The TOW Bunker Buster uses a fragmentation high-explosive bulk charge to breach up to 8 inches (20.3cm) of double-reinforced concrete walls and destroy fortified targets in complex urban terrain. While traditional shaped charges can penetrate entire buildings, the TOW bunker buster disperses its pressure at the point of penetration. The new warhead will be installed in TOW missiles as part of an upgrade which also involves the introduction of an RF link, eliminating the wire guidance which limited the missile’s range and usability in certain conditions.