A TOW missile.

The US Government has signed an agreement with an undisclosed international customer for delivery of the BGM-71 tube-launched, optically tracked wireless-guided weapon (TOW) system.

Expected to be awarded to Raytheon in the coming weeks, the $750m foreign military sale (FMS) will cover delivery of approximately 14,000 TOW missiles to the customer over a three-year period.

The agreement is expected to enable the company to further enhance TOW’s capability, while delivering affordable precision to a vital US ally for the defence of its borders and sovereignty.

In addition, the multi-year FMS arrangement could reduce acquisition costs for the US Government, while providing economies of scale.

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.

"The agreement is expected to enable the company to further enhance TOW’s capability."

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.

It can be launched from a range of ground systems, vehicles or helicopters, and is mounted onto the US Army’s Stryker, Bradley M2/M3 infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs), improved target acquisition systems (ITAS) high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles (HMMWV), light armoured vehicle-anti-tanks, and the AH-1 Cobra helicopters.

Extensively used by US forces in every conflict since the Vietnam War, the missile is also the preferred heavy-assault anti-armour weapon system for Nato and UN peacekeeping operations worldwide.

Deliveries under the contract are scheduled to start in 2015.

Image: A TOW missile being fired from a US Army’s Stryker vehicle through Fort Polk’s, Joint Readiness Training Center, US. Photo: courtesy of Victor J. Ayala.

Defence Technology