Raytheon has signed an agreement with Thales to develop enhancements for its BGM-71 tube-launched, optically tracked, wireless-guided (TOW) weapon system.
The agreement covers a 27-month development phase, followed by a five-year production programme.
Thales has already committed to invest £13.5m in the design and qualification of two new TOW missile subassemblies, in order to address obsolescence, increase system fuse safety and reduce total missile cost.
Raytheon Missile Systems’ Land Warfare Systems product line vice-president Michelle Lohmeier said: "Reinvesting in the TOW weapon system for the US Government, our international partners and TOW users around the globe ensures increased capability and enables Raytheon to continue delivering affordable precision.
"This development activity will enable increased safety compliance and warfighter survivability while addressing obsolescence issues and incorporating cost-saving technologies."
Thales Global Missile Electronics business vice-president Stuart Boulton said: "We have a long-standing relationship for the supply of high-performance missile electronic systems to Raytheon Missile Systems."
The BGM-71 TOW is a long-range anti-tank missile designed to defeat explosive reactive armour, bunkers, fortifications and amphibious landing craft, particularly in complex urban environments.
Featuring multi-mission TOW 2A, TOW 2B, TOW 2B Aero and TOW bunker buster missile variants, the weapon is a command line-of-sight system requiring the user to track the target until the missile hits, and can be launched from a range of ground systems, vehicles or helicopters.
Extensively used by US forces in every conflict since the Vietnam War, the missile is expected to remain in service with the US military beyond 2025, and is also the preferred heavy assault anti-armour weapon system for Nato, coalition and UN peacekeeping operations worldwide.
Raytheon has to date delivered more than 675,000 TOW missiles to the US and allied warfighters.
Image: A TOW missile on display at the White Sands Missile Range Museum in New Mexico, US. Photo: courtesy of the White Sands Missile Range Museum.