Cobra helicopter

Raytheon has conducted first launch of the tube-launched, optically-tracked, wireless-guided (TOW) 2A radio frequency (RF) practise missiles from an AH-1W Cobra attack helicopter during an exercise at an undisclosed location.

Supported by the Naval Air Systems Command, the trial witnessed launch of two TOW 2A RF practise missiles at ranges exceeding 2,600m, with both hitting their targets within inches of the aim points.

The test launch successfully verified the missile’s capability to be fired from a hovering aircraft and from an aircraft manoeuvring to a threat.

Raytheon Land Warfare Systems vice-president Michelle Lohmeier said: "Airborne TOW has always been an integral part of combined-arms operations such as coastal defence missions.

"These shots demonstrate RF capability to be fired off platforms used with wired TOWs without modifications.

"These shots demonstrate that TOW 2A RF is fully capable of defeating modern threat targets."

"These shots demonstrate that TOW 2A RF is fully capable of defeating modern threat targets and will be a viable asset of a nation’s arsenal for the foreseeable future."

Designed to be compatible with all TOW launch systems without any changes to the gunner’s actions, the TOW 2A RF missile has routinely been fired from ground platforms, but was yet to be launched from an airborne platform.

Featuring multi-mission TOW 2A, TOW 2B, TOW 2B Aero and TOW bunker buster missile variants, the BGM-71 TOW is a long-range anti-tank missile designed to defeat explosive reactive armour, bunkers, fortifications and amphibious landing craft, in complex urban environments.

The missile is in service with more than 40 international armed forces and is integrated on over 15,000 ground, vehicle and helicopter platforms across the globe.

The company has delivered more than 690,000 TOW missiles to US and allied forces to date, with the missiles expected to remain in service with the US military beyond 2025.

Image: Raytheon launched the fired two TOW 2A radio frequency practice missiles from an AH-1W Cobra attack helicopter. Photo: courtesy of MC2 Kristopher Wilson.