TOW Missile System Utilization at the National Training Center

by Martin Goldsmith

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This Note reports on one phase of an ongoing project, the goal of which is to apply the experience and information gained at the National Training Center (NTC) at Fort Irwin, California, to problems beyond the NTC's mission of training. The problem examined here is the use of the tube-launched, optically tracked, wire-guided (TOW) missile system in Echo company of the mechanized infantry battalion task forces at the NTC. The study team examined the relative effectiveness of the TOW missile and tank main guns and compared the result with the experience of the opposing force (OPFOR) antitank guided-missile (ATGM) unit. Differences are clear, and the team analyzed both OPFOR and U.S. Army tactics for the use of ATGM and the characteristics of the equipment to explain the differences. To exploit the TOW weapon systems in the attack, AirLand Battle doctrine requires speed and agility of the carrier that matches that of the other maneuver elements. As the improved TOW vehicle (ITV) carrier cannot meet this requirement, the author suggests that the U.S. Army consider replacing its ITV carriers with M3 Bradley vehicles to provide greater speed and maneuverability to the antitank company. At the same time, doctrine must be rewritten so these characteristics can be exploited and aligned with AirLand Battle.

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