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Encyclopedia > TOW missile
A TOW missile being fired from a Jeep. A small charge boosts the missile clear of the launcher before the rocket motor ignites -- fortunately for the soldier standing next to it!

The BGM-71 TOW is an American anti-tank missile. TOW stands for Tube-launched, Optically tracked, Wire-guided.

The TOW was first produced in 1970 and is the most widely used anti-tank missile in the world.


  • Basic TOW, original TOW
  • I-TOW, improved TOW, produced in 1980.
  • TOW 2
  • TOW-2A, late 1980s.
  • TOW 2B, 1991
  • TOW F&F, Fire-and-Forget, next version of the TOW

M-220 TOW is the premier airborne, air assault, and light infantry's answer to armor. The TOW (tube launched, optically tracked, wire guided) missile system is capable of defeating armor at 3.75 km. New improvements include a built in laser range-finder, night time thermal optics able to view out to over 8000 meters at night, and fewer parts required to run the system.

External link

  • www.fas.org (http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/land/tow.htm)

  Results from FactBites:
BGM-71 M-220 Tube-launched, Optically tracked, Wire-guided missile (TOW) (2650 words)
The TOW was one of the earliest missile systems to arrive in SWA because of the large Iraqi armored threat it was deployed with some of the first units in Saudi: the 82nd Airborne Division, the 24th Mechanized Division and the101st Airborne Division.
TOW missiles proved to be a determining factor in the first ground engagement of Operation Desert Storm.
TOW missiles were able to kill targets while the Bradley was on the move.
TOW missiles can be fired at regular ground targets, but at $18,000 per missile they are too valuable to waste on most infantry targets.
Firing TOW missiles during firefights with infantry is also dangerous since the gunner must remain stationary to guide the slow missile for up to 20 seconds after its large back-blast reveals his location.
TOW rockets would carry blast/fragmentation HE warheads, which are more effective against infantry than shaped anti-armor missile warheads.
  More results at FactBites »



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