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 operatorAt 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 KEY STATS Launcher and missile weight 202 pounds First use Vietnam War Missile length 50.4 inches Missile weight 49.9 pounds Introduced 1970 Maximum range 2.3 miles Armor penetration on T-80 tank 31 inches 1 2 5 4 7 8 6 3 Extendible probe Controlwire Missileguidanceset Warhead 1 Warhead 2 Control surface Wing Exhaust Missile Reactivearmorplating Armor Armor Armor Thermal sight Traversingunit Launch tube Opticalsights

SOURCE: Federation of American Scientists, Aircav.com and U.S. Army.