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The US BGM-71 TOW (Tube-launched, Optically tracked, Wire-guided) is the most widely used anti-tank missile in the world today. The TOW can be fired from tripods and ground-combat vehicles or helicopters. The TOW is guided over short ranges manually. The operator manually steers the missile to its target, sending the commands to the missile through a wire which spools out from behind the missile. It is meant for short range use, 4,000 yd. or less. The TOW missile was first used in May 1972 by US Army and Marine Corps infantry in the Vietnam war. The success rate for helicopter launches during the war was an impressive 80%. There have been many variants of the TOW, including the most recent TOW 2 A and B. The TOW 2A incorporated a tandem warhead, one to defeat reactive armor, the next to penetrate the armor. The TOW 2B (operational in 1992) is a top-attack version, designed to hit tank armor from above, where it is weakest. The TOW was initially operational in 1970.
General characteristics
Contractors Hughes Aircraft, McDonnell Douglas
Weight missile 47 lb 21.3 kg
warhead 13 lb 5.9 kg
Length 4.6 ft 140.2 cm
Diameter 6 in 15.2 cm
Guidance Optically-guided (manual)
Power plant Two Hercules solid-fuel rocket motors (1st motor clears TOW from tube)
Speed 0.9 Mach 1,074 km/h
Range 4,100 yards 3,750 m
Warhead High-explosive armor-piercing shaped charge 
Date deployed 1970

Jirka Wagner


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