How TOW anti-tank missiles – Anti-Armor Missile Work | First produced in 1970, TOW is one of the most widely used anti-tank guided missiles. The TOW anti-tank guided missile is still deadly after nearly 50 years of service where it proved itself as a very effective weapon. The TOW anti-tank missiles were responsible for many destroyed tanks, mostly Russian-made.
The TOW missiles are typically used by various companies for heavy anti-armor work but still the TOW is able to knock-out even the most protected tanks. The weapon is used in anti-armor, anti-bunker, anti-fortification and anti-amphibious landing roles.
How TOW anti-tank missiles – Anti-Armor Missile Work
In its basic infantry form, the system breaks down into a number of modules: a folding tripod mount, a launch tube (into the rear of which encased missiles are inserted), a mandatory daysight tracker unit, which can be augmented with an optional AN/TAS-4 or AN/TAS-4/A gas-cooled night sight (or an all-in-one tracker unit on the M41 ITAS version), and a traversing unit, which mounts onto the tripod and carries the launch tube and sight, that also includes the weapon’s trigger and the bridging clamp, which mates with the missile’s umbilical data connector. In addition to this main assembly, there is a separate FIRE CONTROL SYSTEM (FCS) module, which performs all guidance calculations, and a battery pack to power the system. These two modules link to each other, with the FCS then linked to the daysight with a cable.
When the target is sighted and the trigger is pulled, there is a 1.5-second firing delay while the missile spins up its internal gyroscope and the thermal battery reaches operating temperature. Once this concludes, the launch motor fires through the rear nozzle propelling the missile from the tube: this soft-launch motor fires for only 0.05 seconds and burns out before the missile has exited the tube. As the missile exits the launch tube, first four wings just forward of the flight motor spring open forwards, followed by four tail control surfaces, which flip open rearwards as the missile completely exits the launch tube. As the wings fully extend at about 7 meters from the launcher, the flight motor ignites, boosting the missile’s speed to approximately 600 miles per hour (~1,000 kilometers per hour) during its burn time. At 0.18 seconds after launch, around 65 meters from the launcher, the warhead is armed by G-forces from acceleration by the flight motor, a safety feature intended to protect the operator if the flight motor fails to ignite. The flight motor burns out 1.6 seconds after launch, with the missile gliding for the remainder of its flight time. After the tracker captures the missile, IR sensors bore-sighted to the daysight tracker continuously monitor the position of an IR beacon on the missile’s tail relative to the line-of-sight, with the FCS generating course corrections which are sent via the command link to the missile’s integral flight control unit. The missile then corrects its flight path via the control surface actuators. The operator keeps the sight’s crosshair centered over the target until impact: if the missile fails to strike a target, the command wires are automatically cut at 3,000 meters on the original TOW and 3,750 meters on most current-production TOWs. An automatic wirecut also occurs if the tracker fails to detect the missile’s thermal beacon within 1.85 seconds of launching.
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