Infantry Drills

G-72: Firing Limitations

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G-72. Some conditions may limit the firing and engagement capabilities of the TOW. The following information should be considered before engaging targets:

  • Firing over bodies of water. Maximum and limited range firing over water varies by missile type. If the range is less than 1100 meters, the missile’s range is not affected. However, if it is wider than 1100 meters it can reduce the range of the TOW. A TOW position should be as high above and as far back from the water as the tactical situation allows. The squad or section leader should analyze his sector as soon as the position is occupied to determine if water will affect the employment of the TOW. Signals being sent through the command-link wires are shorted out when a large amount of wire is submerged in water.
  • Firing over electrical lines. If the command-link wires make contact with a live high-voltage power line, personnel can be injured or control of the missile could be lost. The launcher electronics also may be damaged. In addition to power lines, other high-voltage sources include street cars, electric train ways, and some moving target trolleys on training ranges.
  • Firing in windy conditions. Gusty, flanking, or quartering winds can cause the launch tube to vibrate and spoil the tracking performance. The effect is similar to driving in a strong crosswind. Strong winds can move the missile around during flight, but as long as the crosshairs are kept on the center mass of the target, the weapon system can compensate for wind effects.
  • Firing through obscurants and area fires. Smoke can obscure the LOS and hide the target when using the daysight tracker. A smooth tracking rate should be maintained as the target disappears into an obscurant cloud so the missile will still be on target or close as the vehicle goes out the other side of the obscurants cloud. (This technique should be practiced during field tracking exercises.) A fire can burn through the command-link wire, causing loss of control of the missile.
  • Firing From bunkers and buildings. In accordance with DA Pamphlet 385-63, TOWs will not be fired from buildings, bunkers, or within 100 meters of a vertical or nearly vertical backstop without the approval of the commanding general.
  • Clearance requirements. The TOW muzzle must have at least nine inches of clearance at the end of the launch tube so the wings and control surfaces of the missile will not be damaged when they extend after clearing the launch tube. The muzzle of the launch tube must extend beyond enclosures, window sill, or aperture. It also must have at least 30 inches of clearance between the LOS and obstructions from 500 to 900 meters downrange. 30-inch LOS clearance ensures a high probability the missile will not strike the ground on the way to the target. (See figure G-34.)
  • Firing TOW BB missile. The missile warhead arms after launcher is between 35 and 65 meters. There is a remote possibility of a TOW BB missile airburst 43 meters from launch platform. The probability of an inadvertent warhead detonation resulting in shrapnel injury to an exposed crewmember also is remote. The crew is protected from shrapnel during firing from Stryker ATGM vehicles. The TOW BB currently is not fired from a HMMWV.
Figure G-34. TOW missile clearance requirements

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