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Down to the Wire

Raytheon Delivering Wireless TOW ATGW to US and International Forces

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” runs one of the adages frequently trotted out in support of maintaining the status quo – and avoiding ‘disruptive’ change.

But if the imperative to fix it is absent, there remains a legitimate – and laudable – desire to improve it. This is exactly what has happened to the venerable – and profoundly effective – Tube-launched Optically-tracked, Wire-guided (TOW) anti-tank guided weapon (ATGW).

Conceived in the 1960s and first produced in 1970, TOW was originally developed by Hughes Aircraft and is now a key component of the Raytheon stable of precision guided weapons. To date, Raytheon has delivered in excess of 700,000 TOW rounds to US and allied forces.

But the TOW missiles being delivered today are very different beasts from the progenitors. Indeed – the very definition of TOW has changed – to ‘Wireless-guided,’ – a transition managed by Raytheon in 2010. On 10 May the US Army awarded the company an additional $101 million (€91 million) production contract for delivery to US Army, Marine Corps and international customers. The family consists of a number of variants that have been modified, enhanced, updated and re-engineered to provide comprehensive and sustainable capability for today’s battlespace.

TOW gives soldiers the upper hand in battle,” commented Raytheon Land Warfare Systems Vice President, Sam Deneke. “The system easily defeats opponents at long range in main battle tanks, fortified bunkers or moving armoured vehicles.

The TOW weapon system, which includes the multi-mission TOW 2A, TOW 2B Aero and TOW Bunker Buster missiles, is a long-range, heavy-assault precision anti-armour, anti-fortification and anti-amphibious landing craft weapon system used throughout the world. The missile will remain in the US Army’s inventory until at least 2034, according to Raytheon – and is likely to be still in service elsewhere in the world as it approaches its century, despite advances in technology and changes in doctrine. Indeed, thou art not broken……

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