|Manufacturer:||Systems and Electronics Inc (SEI)|
|Product type:||Armoured Vehicles|
|Name:||Self-propelled guided missile system|
To meet a US Army requirement for a turret-mounted and elevated TOW ATGW system, three companies built prototype systems and, after trials in December 1976, Emerson (now Systems & Electronics Inc (SEI)) was awarded a low-rate initial production (LRIP) contract for 10 vehicles.
In June 1978, the M901 Improved TOW Vehicle (ITV) was approved for full-scale production and by 1998 well over 5,500 systems had been completed for the home and export markets. This figure includes 3,315 M901 Improved TOW Vehicles and 1,306 M981 Fire Support Team Vehicles for the US Army. Production for the US Army was completed some time ago but it remained in production for the export market. Production is now complete with last customer being Thailand.
The final production model, the M901A1, is capable of firing any of the TOW missile variants (Basic TOW, Improved TOW (I-TOW) or TOW-2 series) produced by the now Raytheon Systems Company.
The US Army installed the system on a modified BAE Systems Ground Systems Division (previously United Defense) M113 series chassis but it could be installed on a wide range of other chassis. For example, the US Marine Corps uses the Light Armored Vehicle (8 × 8), the Netherlands uses the Armored Infantry Fighting Vehicle (with 210 of these recently sold to Egypt) while Saudi Arabia uses the Italian Oto Melara VCC-1 full-tracked chassis.
Recent export orders include 18 for Thailand (the first customer for the latest M901A3 with deliveries in 1997) and the Saudi Arabian National Guard (111 systems on a now General Dynamics Land Systems - Canada (at that time Diesel Division, General Motors of Canada) 8 × 8 Light Armoured Vehicle chassis).
When fitted with the latest RISE power pack, the M901A1 is designated the M901A3 ITV. The Fire Support Team Vehicle (FISTV) is related to the M901 ITV.
Numbers of M901 Improved TOW Vehicles are now surplus to US Army requirements and these are being made available to a number of other countries.
The M901 ITV is no longer in front line service with the US Army. Systems & Electronics Inc is no longer marketing the M901 Improved TOW vehicle.
The M901/M901A1 Improved TOW Vehicle consists of a standard BAE Systems Ground Systems Division M113A1 APC with an M27 cupola mounted on the roof. On the forward part of this is an arm containing the image transfer assembly and on top of the arm is the armoured launcher assembly which contains two TOW launcher tubes, the TOW sight assembly and the acquisition sight.
The turret has full powered 360° traverse at 35°/s with the launcher head having an elevation of +34° and a depression of -30°. This enables the ITV to operate on gradients and side slopes with only the launcher head showing above the crest.
When travelling, the launcher head is retracted level onto the hull top so making the ITV difficult to distinguish from the standard M113A1 series APC.
Once the ITV has come to a halt, it takes only 20 seconds for the launcher to be elevated and the target to be engaged. Time from first round impact to second round triggering with a 12.5° target separation is 4.25 seconds.
The gunner identifies and tracks the target through the image transfer assembly, which contains the coupling optics and allows the gunner to select the standard day sight or night tracking by remote control.
In addition, the coupling optics have a wide field of view so allowing the gunner to scan for targets. The guidance and sights of the ITV are identical to the normal TOW ground-based systems and if required, the components can be removed from the vehicle and fitted to a standard TOW series ground mount; this can be carried inside the hull.
Once the two TOW missiles have been launched, the launcher assembly is depressed at the rear and two new missiles are loaded, this takes only 40 seconds. The loader is provided with both side and overhead armour protection during the manual loading operation.
A further 10 TOW missiles are carried internally and a 7.62 mm machine gun with a total of 2,000 rounds is mounted on the cupola for local defence. Mounted on either side of the hull front is a bank of four electrically operated smoke grenade dischargers.