ITHACA, NY (10/15/2013)(readMedia)-- A restored M901 missile launching armored vehicle, like those used by New York Army National Guardsmen who served in Ithaca in the 1980s and 1990s, will be put on display outside the New York State Armory here on Wednesday, Oct. 16.
Members of the press are invited to observe the installation of the vehicle and speak with Courtney Burns, the Director of Military History for the New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs.
WHO: Members of Company D. 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry and New York Army National Guard Soldiers assigned to the Military Area Training Equipment Site at Fort Drum, N.Y. and Mr. Courtney Burns, the Director of Military History for the New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs.
WHAT: Delivery of an M-901 "Hammerhead" Improved TOW Vehicle to a site outside the Armory to serve as a historical display to remind the Soldiers of today's Army National Guard about the history of their unit. Prior to 2005 the New York Army National Guard unit assigned to the Ithaca Armory was designated as Company E of the 1st Battalion, 108th Infantry. Company E was the anti-armor company of the battalion and trained to kill enemy tanks with the TOW (Tube-launched, Optically-tracked Wire-guided) antitank missile fired from the M901.
WHEN: 10:15 to 11 a.m. on Wednesday, October 16, 2013.
WHERE: 1765 Hanshaw Road, Ithaca, N.Y. 14850
Videographers and photographers can capture images of the armored vehicle being maneuvered into place outside the armory. Reporters can speak with members of Company D, 2nd Battalion 108th Infantry and Mr. Courtney Burns about the significance of the vehicle.
M-901 Improved TOW Vehicle
The M-901 Improved TOW Vehicle (ITV) was dubbed the "hammerhead" by the Soldiers who used it in the 1980s and 1990s because of the retractable missile launcher on top of the vehicle which looked like a hammer when it was locked in the firing position.
The hammerhead feature made the vehicle higher when firing-at just under 10 feet tall-but allowed the crew to fire its weapon from a covered and concealed position.
The weapons system was designed around the reliable M-113 armored personnel carrier in the late 1970s. The Improved Tow Vehicle provided TOW anti-tank missile crews with armor protection so they could survive on the modern battlefield and so they could keep better keep up with tank and armored fighting vehicles which were equipping the U.S. Army in Europe.
Prior to this vehicle, the missiles had been mounted in the back of jeeps.
The M-901 allowed its four-man crew to travel with mechanized infantry and armor units, stop, erect the launcher, and fire two missiles without exposing themselves. The ITV could carry 10 more missiles which the crew could use as reloads. The vehicle is also equipped with smoke grenade launchers to provide some cover from enemy observation.
The vehicle weights 12 metric tons and is just under 15 feet long. It was used by U.S. Army anti-armor companies, scout platoons, and cavalry units and suppliedto allied militaries around the world. More than 5,500 M-901s were produced.
The Army began phasing out the system as more M-2 and M-3 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles and Bradley Scout Vehicles were produced in the late 1980s and 1990s, since those systems could also fire the TOW missile and are also equipped with a 20 millimeter cannon which can destroy light armored vehicles.
This particular M-901 ITV was maintained at Fort Drum to be used by Army National Guard units training there.
The M-901 ITV was used by the New York Army National Guard throughout the 1980s and 1990s when the Army Guard infantry units in New York were designated mechanized infantry, which means they were trained to ride into battle about armored personnel carriers. In 2005 the Army National Guard combat units in New York reconsolidated as light infantry. The Soldiers still use the latest version of the TOW missile but the missiles are now carried by the M-1151 and M-1167 up-armored humvees the unit is assigned.
The New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs History Program
The New York State Military Museum has created and installed a series of exhibits in armories across the state which inform Soldiers and visitors about the history of the units which were located in that armory or in that locality . The Armory Enhancement Program is intended to create an awareness and knowledge of unit history, lineage and traditions and to cultivate and encourage esprit de corps among the unit.
The display of this M-901 is part of the exhibit which has already been installed within the armory, is part of the effort to increase Soldier understanding of their unit history. As a visible testimonial and symbol of America's military forces, the M901 will also serve to identify the armory as a National Guard installation and remind the general public of the unit's contributions to the community, the state, and the nation.
Recently the New York State Military Museum (MNGA-MH) created and installed a series of exhibitions within the Ithaca Armory utilizing historic artifacts and graphics as part of its statewide Armory Enhancement Program (AEP) intended to. The display of the M901 is an outward extension of that effort to increase Soldiers' understanding of their unit's history. Moreover,
The M901 is a direct connection to the unit's past and clearly shows the progression of the anti-tank or tank destroyer units to the current version in the heavy weapons company. In addition, it highlights the greatest difference between motorized infantry, which is what most infantry units have become in the new War on Terror, and a heavy weapons company - the TOW missile. Although the vehicle has not been used recently, the Soldiers of Company D, 2-108 Infantry employed the TOW missile systems during their deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.