The BGM-71 TOW (Tube-launched, Optically-tracked and Wire-guided) missiles are designed to accurately destroy armored vehicles, fortifications and bunkers from safe ranges. Raytheon has produced more than 600,000 TOW missiles over the last 30 years for more than 40 international armed forces around the globe. The TOW missiles have been integrated in more than 15,000 ground vehicles and helicopters.
The TOW was introduced in 1970 and can be fired by the infantry (4 men) using a tripod, ground vehicles (HMMWV, M2) and helicopters (AH-1 Cobra). It is a wire guided weapon with a range in excess of 3,000 meters. The TOW's CLU (Command Launch Unit) allows operations in all weather day or night conditions, after the firing the gunner must keep the sight on the target to ensure the impact.
The TOW missile was widely used during the Vietnam (1970s) war, the Iran-Iraq (1980-88) war, the Desert Storm (1991) operation and most recently during the Iraqi Freedom (2003) operation.
The BGM-71E TOW 2A was developed to defeat armored vehicles outfitted with Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA). TOW2A features a tandem warhead, the first warhead set off the external ERA clearing the way for the TOW 2A's second warhead. The TOW 2A is combat proven defeating battle tanks with first/second generation ERA.