Syrian rebels acquire U.S. made antitank missiles
Syria’s opposition fighters have been supplied with U.S.-made, tube-launched, optically tracked, wire-guided (TOW) antitank missiles. This is the first time that a major American weapons system has appeared in Syrian rebel hands. It is unclear how the rebels obtained the wire-guided missiles, which are capable of penetrating any armored vehicle used by the Syrian army.
Read related article.
1. The initial launch engine burns for less than half a second. It shuts down before the missile leaves the tube.
7. The BGM-71E has a small shaped-charge warhead in the telescoping nose probe. It is designed to explode reactive armor on impact.
8. The main warhead then strikes the conventional armor. A timing device detonates the small primary and large main warheads at the optimum interval.
Antitank missiles work by piercing the armor and killing the crew, or by disabling vital mechanical systems inside the vehicle. Reactive armor responds to the impact of a missile to reduce the damage to the vehicle. The BGM-71E was developed for the U.S. Army specifically to defeat reactive armor.
One method of launching the missile is a tripod-mounted launcher now in use by Syrian rebel groups. The missiles can be fired by a single operator but require a team of four to move the launch tube supporting equipment from place to place.
To overcome this, the BGM-71E missile contains two warheads. The first warhead destroys the external reactive armor plate ...
Many modern armored vehicles have some kind of reactive armor plating designed to detonate an armor-piercing explosive before it makes impact with the armor proper.
... clearing the way for the missile’s second warhead to penetrate the armored vehicle.
2. Front wings unfold as the missile leaves the launcher.
3. The unfolding wings close a circuit that ignites the second flight motor about 25 feet from the launcher.
TSU operator At maximum range, the TSU operator may have to steer for as long as 20 seconds to target.
5. Wire dispensers in the rear of the missile spool out up to 12,000 feet of single-strand command wire.
6. A xenon beacon and a thermal beacon in the rear of the missile is detected by the thermal tracker in the telescopic sight unit (TSU).
4. Control-surface fins unfold immediately after launch and respond to signals through a command-wire link. THE MISSILE LAUNCH SEQUENCE
THE TOW BGM-71E MISSILE
THE M220 LAUNCHER
HOW THE BGM-71E MISSILE OVERCOMES REACTIVE ARMOR
Launcher and missile weight 202 pounds
First use Vietnam War
Missile length 50.4 inches
Missile weight 49.9 pounds
Maximum range 2.3 miles
Armor penetration on T-80 tank 31 inches
Missile guidance set Warhead 1
Reactive armor plating Armor
Traversing unit Launch tube
SOURCE: Federation of American Scientists, Aircav.com and U.S. Army.