Drawing: Cobra Drawing: Cobra

The TOW Missile System (MSL)

Image: TOW missile launchers

The AH-1F utilizes TOW launchers which can carry two missiles each. A maximum of four launchers (8 TOW missiles) can be carried, with two launchers on each outboard pylon.

The TOW missile (Tube-launched, Optically tracked, Wire command-link ) is the primary anti-tank weapon used by the US Army and Marine Corp. It is mounted on the AH-1F and on the/P/S/Q) models plus it is mounted on various ground vehicles. The TOW missile is guided to its target by the front seat pilot/gunner keeping the cross-hairs on the target. Corrective information is sent to the missile by two thin wires that deploy in flight. Several advanced versions exist including a thermal night sight and an improved warhead variant.

The most lethal of the TOW missiles, the TOW 2A and TOW 2B missiles, are currently being produced by Raytheon in Tucson, Arizona.

The TOW 2A missile was developed to counter advances in the armor threat created by the advent of reactive armor. TOW 2A incorporates a tandem warhead armament system to achieve increased lethality against tanks configured with reactive armor. The precursor warhead in the missile probe is designed to set off the explosive in a tank's reactive armor, clearing the way for the primary warhead to penetrate the tank's main armor. As with all the other members of the TOW missile family, TOW 2A can be fired from any of the TOW launchers.

In conjunction with the US Army, Raytheon has developed a new, more lethal version of the TOW missile that will attack tanks from the top where they are most vulnerable. TOW 2B features a dual-mode sensor and a new armament section with two warheads substantially different from those used in other TOW versions. The TOW 2B is designed to fly over the top of the tank and destroy it from above, where it is less heavily armored, by simultaneously detonating the missile's two Explosively Formed Penetrator (EFP) downward pointing warheads.

Through advances in digital electronics, countermeasure performance and warhead lethality, the TOW missile has been able to remain a generation ahead of the armor threat and the free world's #1 choice for a lethal, combat proven anti-armor missile well into the next century.

A TOW's Life An explanation of the TOW missile events from trigger pull to impact.

TOW Anti-Tank Missile

Image: Tow missiles Length: 3 feet, 10 inches.

Weight (Missile): 56.65 lbs.

Range: 4,100 yards.

Speed: 620 mph.

Operating Crew: 2

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Updated: 12 January 2008
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Born on 22 September 1998