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A leader must understand the capabilities of his available weapons systems to employ them appropriately. This appendix describes the characteristics of the TOW, MK19 (40-mm), and M2 (caliber .50 MG).


The basic TOW missile, the BGM-71A, has a maximum range of 3,000 meters. All other models have a maximum range of 3,750 meters. All TOW missiles have a minimum arming range of 65 meters except the TOW 2B, which has a minimum arming range of 200 meters.

a.   Types. Table A-1, lists TOW missiles by type and plate data. Other characteristics are as follows--

(1)   BGM-71A. The basic TOW warhead has a 5-inch, high-explosive, shaped-charge warhead. It is no longer planned for use in combat.

(2)   BGM-71B. This upgraded warhead can fire at targets as far away as 3,750 meters. It is no longer planned for use in combat.

(3)   BGM-71C. The improved TOW (ITOW) missile is the first model with the extensible probe. This probe allows the warhead to detonate at greater ranges and to achieve greater penetration than previous models.

(4)   BGM-71D. The TOW 2 has a 6-inch full-caliber warhead with an extensible probe that can penetrate appliqué armor. The round also has a thermal beacon that enables it to overcome enemy electronic countermeasures (ECM) when fired from a TOW 2 launcher.

(5)   BGM-71E. The TOW 2A warhead has an explosive charge in the tip of its extensible probe that detonates reactive armor. This enables the main warhead to penetrate the target.

(6)   BGM-71F. The TOW 2B is a top attack (fly-over, shoot-down) missile. This missile can penetrate the most vulnerable part of an armored vehicle--the top deck of the turret and hull.

b.   Missile Selection. Based on a thorough analysis of the factors of METT-TC, the leader determines specific missiles for different conditions. Missile-to-target selection preferences (by priority) are listed in Table A-2. Flank shots increase the probability of a single-shot kill and reduce the chance of detection or engagement by enemy armor. This applies to any type of target.

c.   TOW Limitations. FM 3-23.34 (23-34) discusses the following firing limitations in detail:

  • Firing over water.
  • Firing over electrical lines.
  • Firing in windy conditions.
  • Firing through smoke and area fires.
  • Firing from bunkers and buildings.
  • Clearance requirements.

Table A-1. TOW missile types.

Table A-1. TOW missile types.

Table A-2. Missile selection.

Table A-2. Missile selection.


The addition of the MK19 and M2 (Table A-3) makes the antiarmor platoon more flexible than previous units equipped with only the TOW system. These weapons allow the platoon to engage personnel and light-armored vehicles with accurate fire past 2,000 meters. These weapons also allow the platoon to secure itself during movement. In restrictive terrain where a TOW may be ineffective, these weapons enable the platoon to engage enemy elements. They also provide the battalion commander with a highly mobile, hard-hitting force in operations where an enemy armor threat is minimal.

Table A-3. MK19 and M2 characteristics.

Table A-3. MK19 and M2 characteristics.

a.   The MK19 fires HE and high explosive, dual-purpose (HEDP) rounds. The HE round is effective against unarmored vehicles and personnel. The HE round arms 18 to 30 meters after being fired and has a casualty-producing radius of 15 meters. The HEDP round arms at the same range as the HE and penetrates 50.8-mm of rolled homogeneous armor. The round also has a bursting radius of 15 meters. Unlike ammunition for the M2, the ammunition for the MK19 may not be mixed together.

b.   The M2 employs standard ball, tracer, armor-piercing, incendiary, and armor-piercing (incendiary) ammunition. The tracer rounds are used to aid in observing fire. The incendiary rounds are used to produce an incendiary effect, especially against aircraft. The armor-piercing rounds are used against armored targets and can penetrate 25-mm of rolled homogeneous armor at 200 meters. The armor-piercing round can also penetrate 14 inches of sand at 200 meters.

c.   Some countries equip their light-armored vehicles with appliqué armor, which reduces the effectiveness of the MK19 and M2. Gunners need to engage vehicles at closer range and expend more ammunition to destroy the vehicles. Gunners must continue to engage the vehicles until they see the desired results.

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