BGM-71 TOW: another American ATGM in the service of the Armed Forces of Ukraine

The BGM-71 TOW, one of the world’s most widely used anti-tank weapons, has been spotted in service with the Ukrainian Armed Forces. 1,500 of these anti-tank systems were included in the August package of US military support worth $775 million.

The HMMWV with the BGM-71 TOW mounted on it was captured on video from the Kherson region.

The BGM-71 TOW (Tube-launched, Optically tracked, Wire-guided) is a heavy anti-tank guided missile developed by Hughes Aircraft and adopted by the US Army in 1970. Currently, the ATGM, which is considered the most common in the world, is manufactured by the same Raytheon company.

BGM-71 TOW is in service in 40 countries, quite unexpectedly including Iran. The fact is that Iran reverse-engineered the missile in 1979 and now produces a copy of it called Toophan.

BGM-71 TOW participated in almost all major conflicts of the XX and XXI centuries. The missiles were used during the Vietnam War, then the Indochina War, Lebanon War, Soviet-Afghan War, Iran-Iraq War, Gulf War, Battle of Mogadishu, Iraq War, Afghanistan War (2001-2014), Syrian Civil War and now during the Russian-Ukrainian War.

The BGM-71 TOW is a rather heavy system (the armed launcher weighs more than 70 kg), so it is primarily used on various armored wheeled and tracked platforms and helicopters, although there are also versions on tripods. Guidance is command, semi-automatic, carried out through wired communication, but there is already a version with radio control.

BGM-71 TOW is considered a heavy anti-tank missile. Its weight is 18.9-22.6 kg, depending on the modification, of which 3.9-6.14 kg is the warhead. The latest versions of the cluster warhead can penetrate up to 900 mm of armor with dynamic protection. A special warhead “Bunker buster” can overcome 200 mm of reinforced concrete.

Of course, since 1970. BGM-71 TOW has received many variants and improvements. Improved engines and control system, warheads for attacking tanks from above, options against reactive armor and so on.

Currently, the US Army is looking for a replacement for the BGM-71 TOW with an increased range of up to 10 km, higher missile speed and the ability to fire on the move. But the new ATGM, called CCMS-H (Close Combat Missile System-Heavy), is expected to enter service sometime between 2028 and 2032, which is not soon enough.

Thank you, USA! We hope that the BGM-71 TOW will be a good addition to the FGM-148 Javelin, MBT LAW/NLAW, Carl Gustaf M2/M3/M4, Stugna-P and other weapons that help to turn Russian tanks into scrap metal.

Technical characteristics of BGM-71 TOW:

Length – 1,16-1,51 (depending on the variant)
Diameter – 152 mm
Wingspan – 0.46 m
Weight of the main gun – 3.9-6.14 kg
Armor penetration – 430-900 mm
Operational range – 65-4200 m
Maximum missile speed – 278-320 m/s
Control – optical target tracking, wire control