TOW Under-Armour (TUA) Turret


Systems & Electronics Inc developed the TOW Under-Armour (TUA) turret to allow the crew to launch and guide the TOW missile system from defilade whilst also protected by armour. Only 1 m{2} of TUA is exposed to hostile fire and this area is completely separate from the crew location. The TUA tow-tube elevating launcher fires any of the TOW missile variants: Basic TOW, Improved TOW (I-TOW), TOW-2A, TOW-2B and future TOW missile configurations. A description of the TOW missile is given in the Vehicle-mounted anti-tank guided weapons section of this book. The original TUA turret was designed for the US Army M901/M901A1 Improved TOW Vehicle (ITV) utilising the M113A1 APC chassis. The company has produced over 3,200 ITVs for the US Army and the National Guard.
The TUA was designed to be compatible with a wide range of tracked and wheeled armoured fighting vehicles. In addition to the US Army's ITVs, the company has produced TUAs on the OTOBreda VCC-1 chassis for Saudi Arabia, 96 TUAs on the Light Armored Vehicle (LAV) chassis for the US Marine Corps and 314 TUAs on the YPR-765 PRAT tracked vehicle for the Royal Netherlands Army. More than 4,000 TUA turrets have been delivered to date by Systems & Electronics Inc with production continuing. Delivery has started of over 100 systems on the LAV (8 x 8) chassis for Saudi Arabia. In 1996 Systems & Electronics received an order for 18 systems from Thailand. These are being delivered in 1997.
In addition to the fielded vehicles already mentioned, TUA has been successfully integrated on to several other vehicles including the Cadillac Gage Textron (now Textron Marine & Land Systems) LAV-300 (6 x 6), the OTOBreda C-13, the Talbot M-41E, the GKN Defence Simba (4 x 4) and the MOWAG Piranha (8 x 8).


In addition to the two missile launching tubes, the elevating launcher includes the gunner's optics (TOW day sight and thermal night sight), a x4 magnification wide field of view and a x12 magnification target acquisition sight. TOW missile guidance is accomplished with the standard Missile Guidance Set (MGS) mounted inside the crew compartment. The elevated launcher interfaces with the vehicle using a standard M27 cupola, which makes it compatible with most US and allied armoured combat vehicles.
The TUA has fully powered 360 traverse movement with its `hammer head' having an elevation of +34 and depression of -30. This enables the system to operate on gradients and side slopes with only the launcher head showing above the crest. When travelling, the launcher head is retracted on top of the vehicle hull making the vehicle difficult to distinguish from a standard AFV. It requires only 20 seconds for the launcher to be elevated and the target to be engaged. The time from first TOW missile impact to second round triggering with up to 12.5 target separation is 4.25 seconds. The protected gunner identifies and tracks the target with the sight's narrow field of view via the image transfer assembly. He can select either the day sight or night sight by remote control. The wide field of view allows the gunner to scan the terrain and locate targets. The guidance and sights of the TUA are identical to the standard TOW ground launcher system and, if required, these components can be removed from the vehicle and fitted to the ground TOW launcher tripod that is carried inside the vehicle. Once two TOW missiles have been fired the launcher head is depressed at the rear and two reload rounds are fitted. The loader is provided with side and overhead armour protection during the 40 second loading operation. In addition to the two ready to launch TOW missiles, a further 10 TOW rounds can be mounted inside the vehicle. For local defence, a 7.62 mm machine gun with 2,000 rounds of ammunition is mounted on the cupola.


TUA Variants

Systems & Electronics also developed the US Army's M981 Fire Support Team Vehicle (FISTV). This is configured to duplicate the appearance of the M901 but is designed to locate and designate targets. The same elevating platform is used, however, and the TOW optics are replaced by the AN/TVQ-2 Ground Laser Locator/Designator (GLLD). The FISTV includes a north-seeking gyroscope, a land navigation system and extensive communications equipment located inside the vehicle. The system provides target identification, acquisition and designation to artillery units, enabling them to achieve `first-round fire for effect' hits with both conventional and laser-guided smart munitions. Over 1,300 FISTVs have been produced by the company for the US Army and, the Egyptian government has procured 25 Artillery Target Locating Vehicles (ATLVs), the international variant of the FISTV.

TUA/FISTV Upgrades

Service Life Enhancement Programmes (SLEPs) available for the M901/M981 vehicles include:

(a) Commander's Video Viewing Device - to give the commander a remote view of the gunner's sight imagery via a video link. This will greatly improve the commander's ability to conduct surveillance and target identification as well as improving the training capabilities (for both ITV and FISTV)
(b) NBC upgrade - to install NBC filters and ventilated face masks for the crew (for ITV, which currently lacks an onboard NBC system)
(c) Automatic Turret Positioning - to solve the difficulties in positioning the `hammer head' in the stow/load position whilst under fire (for both ITV and FISTV)
(d) Integrated Global Positioning System (GPS) - an electronic interface for existing GPS units to allow 15 m CEP accuracy in obtaining vehicle position (for FISTV)
(e) Enhanced AN/TAS-4 Night Sight Collimation - the fitting of remote night sight adjustment controls which are accessible within the vehicle so as to keep crew under armour during, and reduce time taken for, collimation task (for both ITV and FISTV)
(f) Night sight lens cover - a protective cover installed on the face of the launcher sight system to reduce potential for battlefield damage as well as frequency of cleaning (for ITV)
(g) Low-voltage sensor - to identify battery low voltage by audible warning whilst there is still sufficient battery energy available for engine and start. During `silent watch' periods the battery can be rapidly drained (for both ITV and FISTV)
(h) North-seeking gyro emergency power supply - low battery voltage can currently cause the North-seeking gyro to re-initialise. As this takes 10 minutes before the system is fully operational again the emergency power supply is designed to prevent this loss of operational capability and extend system operating time under such circumstances (for FISTV)
(i) HYDRA 70 unguided rocket
(j) Laser filter - the current Fielded Image Transfer Assembly wide field of view does not provide laser filter protection. A laser filter is to be installed in the objective lens to allow easy field upgrades to protect against laser illumination (for ITV)
(k) RISE power upgrade (for both ITV and FISTV).
The US Army and National Guard are to introduce all the above improvements except the addition of the HYDRA rocket because of the need to keep these vehicles in the inventory for longer than originally planned as well as correcting certain operational problems identified during `Operation Desert Storm'. The development of the two SLEP packages is currently funded with the application projected to begin at the Red River Army depot and scheduled to continue at the rate of one active army division per fiscal year.

Crew: 1 (gunner)
(main) twin TOW ATGW launcher
(secondary) 1 x 7.62 mm MG
(smoke grenade dischargers) optional
(TOW) 2 plus 10
(7.62 mm) 2,000
(traverse) 360
(traversing rate) 35/s
(elevation/depression) +34/-30
(acquisition sight) x2.8 magnification, 25 field of view
(TOW day sight) x13 magnification, 5.5 field of view
(TOW AN/TAS-4 infrared) x4 magnification, 3.4 x 6.8 wide
(night vision sight) field of view x12 magnification, 1.1 x 2.2 narrow field of view
(Squad Leader's periscope (M901 vehicle)) 360 traverse, -20 to
+10 elevation/depression, x4 magnification, 12.5 field of view
Launcher height above vehicle top (M901):
(stowed) 1.08 m
(raised) 1.52 m
Power supply: 24 V DC

STATUS : In production. In service with Egypt (52), Greece (24), Jordan (50), Kuwait (58), Netherlands (314), Pakistan (24), Saudi Arabia (224), Thailand (18) and the USA (US Army and US Marine Corps).

COMPANY NAME : Systems & Electronics Inc a subsidiary of ESCO Electronics Corporation.