- Aircraft, Vehicles and Equipment Factfile > Tube Launched, Optically Tracked, Wire Guided (TOW) Missile Weapon System

Tube Launched, Optically Tracked, Wire Guided (TOW) Missile Weapon System

Primary function: Guided missile weapon system.
Manufacturer: Hughes (missiles); Hughes and Kollsman (night sights); Electro Design Mfg. (launchers)
TOW 2A Missile:
Diameter: 5.87 inches (14.91 cm)
Length: 50.40 inches (128.02 cm)
TOW 2B Missile:
Diameter: 5.8 inches (14.9 centimeters)
Length: 48.0 inches (121.9 centimeters)
Maximum effective range: 2.33 miles (3.75 kilometers)
Armor penetration: T-80 +
Time of flight to maximum effective range:
2A: 20 seconds
2B: 21 seconds
Launcher w/TOW 2 Mods: 204.6 pounds (92.89 kilograms)
Missile Guidance Set: 52.8 pounds (23.97 kilograms)
TOW 2 Missile: 47.4 pounds (21.52 kilograms)
TOW 2A Missile: 49.9 pounds (22.65 kilograms)
TOW 2B Missile: 49.8 pounds (22.60 kilograms)
Introduction date: 1970
Unit Replacement Cost: $180,000

Mission: To engage and destroy enemy armored vehicles, primarily tanks. Secondary mission is to destroy other point targets such as non-armored vehicles, crew-served weapons and launchers.

Features: The basic TOW Weapon System was fielded in 1970. This system is designed to attack and defeat tanks and other armored vehicles. It is primarily used in antitank warfare, and is a command to line of sight, wire-guided weapon. The system will operate in all weather conditions and on the "dirty" battlefield. The TOW 2 launcher is the most recent launcher upgrade. It is compatible with all TOW missiles. The TOW 2 Weapon System is composed of a reusable launcher, a missile guidance set, and sight system. The system can be tripod mounted. However because it is heavy, it is generally employed from the HMMWV and LAV-AT. The missile has a 20-year maintenance-free storage life. All versions of the TOW missile can be fired from the current launcher.

Inventory: TOW launchers - 1247

Background: The original TOW missile had a diameter of 5 inches and a range of 3000 meters. Considerable improvements have been made to the missile since 1970. The Improved TOW (ITOW) was delivered in 1982. This missile has a 5-inch diameter warhead, and includes an extended probe for greater standoff and penetration. An enhanced flight motor was included in the ITOW, increasing the missile's range to 3750 meters. The TOW 2 series of improvements includes TOW 2 Hardware, TOW 2 Missile, TOW 2A Missile, and TOW 2B Missile. The TOW 2 Hardware improvements included a thermal beacon guidance system enabling the gunner to more easily track a target at night and numerous improvements to the Missile Guidance System (MGS). The TOW 2 Missile has a 6-inch diameter warhead and the extended probe first introduced with ITOW. The TOW 2B Missile incorporates new fly-over, shoot-down technology.

Date last modified: 12/15/95

Last Modified on June 17, 1999