TOW Missiles

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von thoma
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TOW Missiles

Post by von thoma » 18 Apr 2019 02:11

Is outdated today the use of TOW missiles ? There are more modern anti-tank techniques ?
Thanks for your answers
" The right to believe is the right of those who don't know "

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Re: TOW Missiles

Post by South » 18 Apr 2019 10:06

Good morning von Thoma,

First, my reply to your question 2;

Yes, there are more modern anti-tank weapons than the TOWs.

Question 1; It depends on many variables when discussing TOW missiles

...

I write here as an aficionado of the think tank "Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments".

...

The TOW isn't actually a guided missile. It requires line of sight for adjustments until the target is engaged.

...

I must add here the famous Stalin statement: "Quantity is a form of quality".

...

Those variables: ... ... ... The TOW and the new,even more improved ,TOWs is something like a WWII recoilless rifle. There are helicopter versions also. Counterpart weapons like the Rayethon TOW are the Saab Bofors' Carl Gustaf recoilless rifle. The Carl Gustaf is an individual infantry weapon. The TOW is crew-served and needs, at least, a tripod.

Another variable: why I mentioned the think-tank ...... a later anti-tank weapon, the Javelin missile, costs (actually past tense... I don't know current costs) US$80,000. A Carl Gustaf was US$3,000.

The forgotten variable - at least here in the States - the enemy tank will counter-attack. Three infantry persons (gender-neutral terminology) can try to flee from the tank. A TOW crew, especially if mounted on a jeep or other vehicle, is called a target.

For the initial versions of TOWs, Soviet tanks had effective counter-measures, eg certain new armor.

...

Your questions involve a BIG field of discussion and debate. Again, that's why at the meetings the contractors don't like to hear about budgetary assessments.

Hope my above rambling provides some leads for further research.

~ Bob

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Re: TOW Missiles

Post by Ironmachine » 22 Apr 2019 08:24

South wrote:The TOW isn't actually a guided missile. It requires line of sight for adjustments until the target is engaged.
Let's be accurate call things by their proper name: TOW is indeed a guided missile, wire-guided in fact. What TOW is not is a fire-and-forget weapon.
South wrote:The Carl Gustaf is an individual infantry weapon. The TOW is crew-served and needs, at least, a tripod.

Actually, Carl Gustaf is also a crew-served weapon, with a gunner and a loader.
von toma wrote:Is outdated today the use of TOW missiles ? There are more modern anti-tank techniques ?
Well, that depends heavily on what you call "outdated". Many weapons systems have been called outdated throughout history and still provided good service. There are indeed more modern anti-tank weapons, but the TOW is still very able to fullfil its mission.

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Re: TOW Missiles

Post by South » 22 Apr 2019 08:38

Good morning Iron Machine,

Accuracy does require using common-denominator definitions.

In the US, users of TOW ... not necessarily being the design engineers ... do not call it a "guided missile" within the usual import of the term as used in the US. I do understand the point you're making.

My above quote did contain the word "actually".

Concur; You are correct. Carl Gustav is also a crew-served weapon.


~ Bob

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Re: TOW Missiles

Post by Ironmachine » 22 Apr 2019 19:37

South wrote:My above quote did contain the word "actually".
Your quote is: "the TOW isn't actually a guided missile"
And that's the problem. Whatever the users of TOW in the US call it, the TOW is actually a guided missile: wire-guided as I have already said.
Just remember, the TOW name comes from the abbreviation of its description: Tube-launched, Optically tracked, Wire-guided.

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Re: TOW Missiles

Post by South » 22 Apr 2019 20:52

Good afternoon Iron Machine,

I clearly understand the point you're making.

I also wrote "It requires line of sight for adjustment until the target is engaged". Waiting for the target to be engaged allows soldiers to say it is not a guided missile.

What US Defense contractors and what US procurement officials call "guided" might also be correct. Those using the TOW are aware it is not a "shoot and forget".

~ Bob

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Re: TOW Missiles

Post by Ironmachine » 23 Apr 2019 07:46

South wrote:I clearly understand the point you're making.
Unfortunately, I can not understand yours. Is it that the TOW is not a "fire-and-forget" missile? Pretty obvious. I already mentioned it in my first post that TOW is not such a weapon:
Let's be accurate call things by their proper name: TOW is indeed a guided missile, wire-guided in fact. What TOW is not is a fire-and-forget weapon.
But what you actually stated was:
The TOW isn't actually a guided missile.
And that is not true. TOW is indeed a guided missile.
South wrote:I also wrote "It requires line of sight for adjustment until the target is engaged". Waiting for the target to be engaged allows soldiers to say it is not a guided missile.
Do you mean until the target is hit? Well, that is because the missile is actually being guided to the target. As the operator has to keep the sight centered over the target until impact, those soldiers you mention should be aware that this is necessary because it is a guided missile.
Shout wrote:What US Defense contractors and what US procurement officials call "guided" might also be correct. Those using the TOW are aware it is not a "shoot and forget".
Is there anyone that thinks the TOW is a "shoot and forget" weapon? I don't think so.
But everybody should be aware that "guided" and "fire-and-forget" are different concepts. And everybody should be aware that TOW is a guided missile.

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Re: TOW Missiles

Post by South » 23 Apr 2019 08:36

Good morning Iron Machine,


I agree with you that the TOW is a guided missile. Again, agreed that the definition and the TOW make it a guided missile.

You are adding absolutes to a definition that is not universal - especially involving the soldiers deploying the TOW. Regardless, the main definition of a TOW is that it is indeed a guided missile.

Here is the problem: The minority, or secondary definition, used by some soldiers is different than the basic, universal definition. Note the abbreviations ECM and ECCM. ECM = electronic counter measures and ECCM = electronic counter, counter measures. Related are other measures such as heat and optical.

The TOW crew could readily be destroyed by the enemy target, eg a main battle tank, if the launched TOW missile is not an immediate direct hit.

I saw the M72 LAW (Light AntiTank Weapon) be re-designated from "weapon" to a form of "ammunition". Absolutes were present in the original definition with the later minority position definition governing the changed philosophy.

It need not be accepted - but must be acknowledged - ... but there just might not be any TOW crew soldiers in life to adjust the wire trajectory. Regardless, the main definition of a TOW is that it is indeed a guided missile.

...

From a February, 2005 "Defense News":

"The future battlefield is becoming empty. If you are there, you are destroyed. The only options are stealth or autonomous systems".

Conclusion: The TOW is a guided missile.

~ Bob

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Re: TOW Missiles

Post by Sejanus » 23 Apr 2019 08:44

von thoma wrote:
18 Apr 2019 02:11
Is outdated today the use of TOW missiles ? There are more modern anti-tank techniques ?
Thanks for your answers
Generally, TOW missiles are not outdated because over the years improved models have been developed. The US military still fields TOW missiles as do many other nations around the world.

As for "more modern anti-tank techniques," the use of TOW missiles is still a modern and effective anti-tank technique, albeit based on an original design that is not new.

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Re: TOW Missiles

Post by Ironmachine » 23 Apr 2019 11:00

South wrote:You are adding absolutes to a definition that is not universal - especially involving the soldiers deploying the TOW. Regardless, the main definition of a TOW is that it is indeed a guided missile.
The soldiers deploying the TOW may say it is a cucumber, but a TOW is not a cucumber. The soldiers deploying the TOW may say it is a "fire-and-forget" missile, but the TOW is not a "fire-and-forget" missile. The soldiers deploying the TOW may say it is not a guided missile, but the TOW is a guided missile. However, I doubt any of the soldiers deploying the TOW has said it is an unguided missile.
South wrote:It need not be accepted - but must be acknowledged - ... but there just might not be any TOW crew soldiers in life to adjust the wire trajectory.
Who is not accepting that fact? Certainly I'm very aware of it. But that does not change the fact that the TOW is a guided missile.
South wrote:Regardless, the main definition of a TOW is that it is indeed a guided missile.
Well, it has to be either guided or unguided. So the only possible definition of a TOW is that it is a guided missile.
South wrote:Conclusion: The TOW is a guided missile.
Quod erat demonstrandum :lol:

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Re: TOW Missiles

Post by South » 23 Apr 2019 14:12

Good morning Iron Machine,

Your post makes me feel like I'm at a Sinai Support Mission briefing.

"You will find obstacles enough; what does anything I say matter in comparison ?" THE CASTLE, Franz Kafka


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Re: TOW Missiles

Post by ChristopherPerrien » 23 Apr 2019 15:20

von thoma wrote:
18 Apr 2019 02:11
Is outdated today the use of TOW missiles ? There are more modern anti-tank techniques ?
Thanks for your answers
Two major problems with TOW's were 1. the launcher and the launching crew had to have Line of sight to the target and maintain that while guiding the missile. Line of sight works both ways so if the TOW crew could see the target the target could see them , which meant a TOW could be "suppressed " or knocked out before it had a chance to hit, also that fire from the enemy during and after launch , could make the "gunner" miss , by distraction or driving the gunner to seek cover. This is the same problem the "Sagger missile" has , only the TOW launcher/system is alot bigger than a Sagger system.

2, The TOW is guided by a wire stringing out the back while in flight. These control wires were susceptible to being "snagged" by trees, cover, buildings, etc. as they were played out anywhere between the launcher and the target. When the wire get snagged it breaks , making the missile unguided and miss the target. Also the "wire " itself , just by the speed/stress of it being played out could break even if it did not snag anything.

I knocked down several trees once with my tank in a simulated combined arm defensive position so the TOW crews had open "fields of fire" (field of flight for their missiles , in the primary avenue of approach because of this possibility. And I have seen TOW missiles break wire/lose control a few times while I was in. I would almost call it an unreliable weapons system except maybe in the "desert" where there are less snags for the missile wires.


These two reason are why newer missiles are fire and forget. They don't need any further guidance after they are launched, and they also don't have a wire.
-------------------------------
Note. There is (well was :( ) a missile developed in the 1980's called the FOG missile which was short for "Fiber Optic (wire) Guided". It fired almost straight up and was guided by the launching crew though a TV cam in the missile head with the picture transmitted back by the FO wire and guidance though the same. .So the crew could remain unseen and never have to "see" their target' (and these missiles could fly 20-40 MILES) so could launch and fly and literal look for targets while in flight . Seen photos of them hitting vehicles and even moving helicopters! in flight .

And with the missile going up first , there was no chance of the control wire "dragging the ground" and being snagged, before the missile hit a target.

The system was a launcher on the back of a HMMWV with 8 of these missiles. IMO such missiles would have been the death of tanks and helicopters and warfare as we knew/know it, At the time the Army said they canceled it because of cost, but I think it was because the US MIC had/has too much stock in tanks and helicopters and selling them :wink: to want to introduce a system think might well have made/ and will make their other marketable toys obsolete.

And now the old 1980's cost argument is gone , as the computer/visual/ and fiber optic electronics for such a FOG missile are now dirt cheap.

One of these days someone will get wise. Drone bombs/anti tank bombs are an idea but their control signals can be scrambled Can't scramble a FOG missile.

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Re: TOW Missiles

Post by Ironmachine » 23 Apr 2019 19:56

ChristopherPerrien wrote:2, The TOW is guided by a wire stringing out the back while in flight. These control wires were susceptible to being "snagged" by trees, cover, buildings, etc. as they were played out anywhere between the launcher and the target. When the wire get snagged it breaks , making the missile unguided and miss the target. Also the "wire " itself , just by the speed/stress of it being played out could break even if it did not snag anything
There are radio-controlled versions of the TOW 2 that do not suffer from this drawback. Of course, their wireless guidance is vulnerable to ECMs, but that's a different problem.
ChristopherPerrien wrote:]Note. There is (well was :( ) a missile developed in the 1980's called the FOG missile which was short for "Fiber Optic (wire) Guided". It fired almost straight up and was guided by the launching crew though a TV cam in the missile head with the picture transmitted back by the FO wire and guidance though the same. .So the crew could remain unseen and never have to "see" their target' (and these missiles could fly 20-40 MILES) so could launch and fly and literal look for targets while in flight . Seen photos of them hitting vehicles and even moving helicopters! in flight .

And with the missile going up first , there was no chance of the control wire "dragging the ground" and being snagged, before the missile hit a target.

The system was a launcher on the back of a HMMWV with 8 of these missiles. IMO such missiles would have been the death of tanks and helicopters and warfare as we knew/know it, At the time the Army said they canceled it because of cost, but I think it was because the US MIC had/has too much stock in tanks and helicopters and selling them :wink: to want to introduce a system think might well have made/ and will make their other marketable toys obsolete.

And now the old 1980's cost argument is gone , as the computer/visual/ and fiber optic electronics for such a FOG missile are now dirt cheap.

One of these days someone will get wise. Drone bombs/anti tank bombs are an idea but their control signals can be scrambled Can't scramble a FOG missile.
As for why the FOG was not adopted by the U.S. Army, this may be of interest:
Here are comments by retired Army officer Mark Gallmeier's about the history of the FOGM, which is now called the Enhanced FOGM, or EFOGM:

"Since I was involved in this, I can give you a bit of background on why the US Army didn't take FOGM in the late 70s. It was a correct decision back then, given that the Army was designing to fight and win at 1-3 reverse odds. The whole concept of modifying the AGM-65 (Army Ground Missile 65) TOW (Tube Launched Optically Tracked Wire Command Link Guided Missile) missile with fibre optic cable and a tv-seeker warhead was an Army MICOM (Missile Command) engineer's idea dating from 1975. The U.S. Army in fact invented the concept of FOGM. As an exercise in low-cost creative thinking, it was brilliant. Here's why Hellfire was chosen over FOGM in the 1970s.

a. Hellfire had a designed range of 18 kilometers, compared to FOGM's then and still current 10km. Since the Hellfire range was classified (public references only said "in excess of 3750 meters") outsiders were confused. They didn't know it was going to be 5 TIMES in excess. This range of course put the AH-64 well outside the current and 20 year projected Soviet SHORAD (Short Range Air Defense) umbrella. You know the 'upsided down wedding cake' model for ADA (Air Defense Artillery) coverage.

b. Hellfire, as a LOS laser designated weapon had a guidance package about the same price as the FOGM TV (television) package promised. But FOGM has to carry all its optics with it, and they're destroyed with each round. Apache carried all the computers, thermal sights (very expensive and still large back in the 1970s), IR etc with it in its TAADS package (Target Acquisition And Designation System). FOG-M therefore would only be a daylight VFR (Visual Flight Rules) weapon with about 60% of Hellfire's range. FOGM accuracy didn't promise to be nearly as good, either. The TAADS is stabilized in 3 axes. In the 1970s the computer technology simply wasn't available to enhance the returned FOGM picture back and stabilize it. TV guided bombs are released at targets known to exist and whose location is well fixed. FOG-M has to acquire during its cruise, and the cruise time is limited.

The vast advances in computer technology since the 1970s have resolved most of this problem, of course. Advances in optics technology have improved the raw picture, reduced the seeker package price and increased the night/low visibility capabilities.

c. FOGM is an indirect fire weapon and therefore ground mounted. The shorter range FOGM package rolling on wheels simply wouldn't give division and corps commanders the capability to RAPIDLY mass decisive anti-tank fires at the critical point, at least not like the AH-64 (Attack Helicopter 64) Apache. The whole AH-64 organization stays outside the range of enemy artillery. Apache rearms/refuels outside enemy artillery and quickly shuttles in. Although we pushed AH-64 battalions down to division, this organization was subject to detachment by the Corps commander at a moment's notice. With two divisions' AH-64 battalions, plus three more at Corps level, the Corps commander had the theoretical capability to mass 5 x 18 = 90 Apaches x 16 Hellfires = 1,440 Hellfires at a threatened breakthrough.

Casualties and serviceability rates would reduce this optimal number, but there in nutshell is how Generals Meyer & Starry planned to DESTROY (not 'attrit', 'delay', or 'stop') an invading Warsaw Pact force. FOGM then and even now doesn't promise that kind of battlefield decisiveness. General Meyer was not kidding when he told Congress in 1980 that if they cancelled the Apache he would have to redesign the entire US Army.

There was never any chance of massing shorter range, less accurate FOGMs on wheels that way. Apache could redeploy in 30 minutes. FOGM might make it in half a day, depending on the condition of the lateral road network. The deeper FOGM wants to penetrate, the closer it has to come to the enemy's forward elements, meaning it becomes vulnerable to artillery, unless you put it inside a track.

d. Threat analysis revealed that there was one significant threat to the AH-64 before 2000: You wrote: "Even attack helicopters would stay clear of areas where EFOG-Ms were reported, since EFOGMs can be used against them."

We realized that in 1977. And when that datum fell out of analysis, it was the end of FOGM for that generation. General E.C. "Shy" Meyer, then Chief of Staff, crushed the FOGM boomlet personally. Why should we do the Soviet's development for them? It took the GRU (Soviet Military Intelligence) almost no time to get the blueprints for most of the AH-64 itself. Only way to keep them from getting FOGM was to not build it, even as an R&D (Research and Development) project. I was told Meyer had said he would personally end the career of anyone, military or civil service, who spent one more penny or said one more word about FOGM. It was another example of the aluminum strip 'window' radar jamming story from World War II. Discussion, comment and criticism continued in thinking circles outside. But it was impossible for anyone in possession of the facts to educate the well meaning outsiders without educating the non-well meaning Soviets, too.

e. FOGM is still not much of a threat since the Hellfire ranges have gone up and now the Longbow Apache has appeared. The reason the Army may buy FOGM is mostly for its anti-helicopter potential. Gunships still have to close in to use guns or dumb rockets. FOGM remains a second best weapon compared to Hellfire for anti-tank or other hi-value ground targets. The problems of rapid lateral massing also still remain.

The place where we're really missing out is SMALLER FOGM's for the infantry. The trick that was done with the TOW could also be done with a much smaller rocket about the size of the old M-72A2 LAW (Light Anti-Tank Weapon). Small FOGMs will displace mortars from the TOE (Table of Organization and Equipment). Cheap rockets with cameras, fibre optic cables and parachutes will be an excellent tactical intelligence tool for light infantry companies and platoons. A computer mounted on a track, HMMWV (High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle) or even an ATV (All Terrain Vehicle) could rapidly process the imagery, giving platoon thru battalion commanders real time on-call aerial reconnaissance and first cut imagery analysis."
http://g2mil.com/efogm.htm

A number of FOG missile projects have been developed in different countries. They may be a valuable addition to the panoply of weapons, but I don't see anyone thinking that they are going to be the end of the tank and the helicopter. Only time will tell!

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Re: TOW Missiles

Post by ChristopherPerrien » 20 May 2019 19:47

Thank you Iron Machine for the posting. I once sent an a "letter to the editor " of Armor Magazine about the FOG's after eading with high interest about the development and cancellation of these missiles back in the 1980's . I was not so Brigade of higher emphasis such as the usage of Apache helicopters . I saw them more on the level of Battalion AT Assets , much as air defense has to be down at lower echelon to protect those lower echelons. The US Army never understood that either.
. FOGM is still not much of a threat since the Hellfire ranges have gone up and now the Longbow Apache has appeared.
yea -
It took the GRU (Soviet Military Intelligence) almost no time to get the blueprints for most of the AH-64 itself. Only way to keep them from getting FOGM was to not build it, even as an R&D (Research and Development) project. I was told Meyer had said he would personally end the career of anyone, military or civil service, who spent one more penny or said one more word about FOGM.
Yep
There was never any chance of massing shorter range, less accurate FOGMs on wheels that way. Apache could redeploy in 30 minutes. FOGM might make it in half a day, depending on the condition of the lateral road network.
YEp, LOL , they looked at these thing as some sort of Corps artillery, only to cover their effectiveness at lower levels.
. IE.
Half a Day ? LOL , when such units would have been deploy with first echelon , It was actually the Apache's that would have been a half hour behind deployment of FOG's in the "Big Show " in Europe.
T he place where we're really missing out is SMALLER FOGM's for the infantry.
Yea, typical ground pounder , no clue of armor warfare, Combined Arms? LOL Still no clue
A computer mounted on a track, HMMWV (High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle) or even an ATV (All Terrain Vehicle) could rapidly process the imagery, giving platoon thru battalion commanders real time on-call aerial reconnaissance and first cut imagery analysis."
What I was thinking back in 1989.
But then we won the Cold War , and I thought the world would be come a more peaceful place, but the knowledge of such FOGM's might prevent a new "big war" from ever happening . However now they go on not realize that the new drones , once they see the electromagnetic hell that will be played upon the EM spectrum. FOGM's will not only be wiping out tanks and helicopters but even individual infantry. Drones will have nothing on them. Our drones work now only because we fight peasants with no ECM capacity . Might work against terrorists or patriots , won't work against organized modern enemy combatants. China is building drone launching AFV's , but they will get wise and realize as the Germans did in WWI , the only way to securely control your forces/weapons without enemy eavesdropping or 'scrambling" is by wire , not radio.

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Re: TOW Missiles

Post by Paul Lakowski » 20 May 2019 21:06

while Command to LOS -wire guidance may be obsolete in modern terms ; it would likely still be effective in hitting point targets . Everything I read about SAGGER MISSILE was very difficult to detect after launch it was and thus more difficult to supress unless the launcher was already under fire which is unlikely in an ambush.

Any AFV hit by such missile will be effected even if it can't penetrate, and since no special armor can cover everywhere. To that end any ATGM can still be useful with a HE/HESH/HEP type warhead in order to neutralize softer point targets.

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