The Pentagon's Joint Requirements Oversight Council has endorsed the Follow-On To TOW (FOTT) missile programme, allowing the US Army to proceed to engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) of the next- generation short-range anti-tank missile.

One missile manufacturer will be selected to begin the EMD phase, which is due to cost $450 million and last 84 months. The US Army expects to procure nearly 40,000 of the weapons, worth about $5 billion, and initial units should be fielded by 2005-6.

Hughes Aircraft, the current TOW manufacturer, is teamed with Raytheon TI Systems and Lockheed Martin, which have been undertaking a series of FOTT risk-reduction efforts for the past few years.

The field of competitors may widen because the US Army said earlier this year that it would allow for international competition.

Issue of the formal request for proposals for the FOTT is pending, and the deadline for industry responses is 22 December. Final bids are due in early 1998, with an EMD contractor to be selected in May. The FOTT will replace the tube-launched, optically tracked, wire-guided TOW missile system on ground-mounted platforms. Airborne applications may follow.

Source: Flight International