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New sight keeps TOWs on target

25 Sep 2005 | Pfc. Chistopher J. Ohmen

A new piece of equipment is providing Cpl. David A. Tellado and his fellow Marines a tactical advantage while fighting the insurgency in Iraq.

Tellado and the Marines of Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, are testing the Improved Target Acquisition System for the tube-launched, optically-tracked, wire-guided missile system during their deployment in a combat environment.

“The new system is leaps and bounds above the old system,” said Tellado, a 25-year-old TOW gunner with the company.  “This is an incredible piece of gear.”

He and the Weapons Company Marines are the first in the Corps to get their hands on the new sighting system.  They will test it for the length of the deployment and then give an overall assessment of its use and their opinion of it.

According to Mike Sams, a field service representative for Raytheon Systems Company that designed the system, the Army has used the system for eight years and has nothing but good things to say about it.

Before deploying to Iraq, Tallado and some of his fellow Marines attended a 10-day class teaching them all the basics of their new piece of gear.

A group of civilians and two military members - one Army TOW gunner experienced with the system and a Captain from Marine Corps Systems Command - went through the training manual, cleaning, operation, assembly, disassembly, mounting, and a few other topics.  After completing the classroom training they had the opportunity to shoot 20 inert and eight live missiles on the G3 range at Camp Lejeune.

“Once you know the basics of how to operate the system it was easy to get on the range and fire with good accuracy,” the Montvale, N.J., native stated.

The new system offers many advantages over the old one.  Being able to get target identification at greater ranges is one advantage of the new optics.  Another advantage is that the day and night sights are integrated on the new system unlike the old sighting system where the day and night sites were separate components that had to be switched out.  The new site also allows gunners to accurately range targets with a laser range finder.

The new thermal sight gives Tellado and the Marines a definite upper hand, providing the ability to distinguish between objects by their heat signatures day or night.  The thermal sight is also attached to a screen in the cab of the vehicle so the vehicle commander can see what the gunner is looking at.

“With these improvements, the TOW sights provide us with better standoff capabilities when we are out in the area of operation,” Tellado stated.

With the previous sight having a 30-year run in the Marine Corps inventory, he and the Marines are glad the Corps is looking at this system.

“The old sight system was a battle proven system that worked well, but the new system has enhancements that will improve our employment of this weapon system,” Tellado stated.