Know Your Weapons: The “Toophan”; The Iranian TOW Missile Knockoff


The CIA program to supply Arab rebels in Syria has made TOW anti-tank guided missiles a nearly ubiquitous sight in media coming from the conflict. But the United States might not be the only country waging a covert war with TOW (or TOW-like) missiles in the Middle East.

Iranian reverse-engineered TOW anti-tank guided missiles, dubbed “Toophan,” have been been sighted headed toward Yemen with additional suspected appearances in Iraq and Syria — all in the hands of Tehran’s allies and proxy groups.

Iran’s production of reverse-engineered TOW missiles is no great secret. In official news outlets, documentaries and on Iran’s official arms export website, the Islamic Republic has touted its production of a series of different Toophan missiles derived from TOW variants.

It has produced at least a handful of different Toophan models, including the Toophan 1 through 3. According to Armament Research Services, the three systems appear to copy the TOW BGM-71A, BGM-71C and BGM-71F missiles. Iran makes two other variants, dubbed the Toophan-5 and Qaem.

In addition to the basic infantry launch platform, Iran has equipped some of its vehicles to fire the missiles. The basic Safir 4×4 tactical vehicle often appears in military parades equipped with a Toophan launcher.

Iran’s unhelpfully-named Toufan-2 helicopter, based on the Bell Sea Cobra, also appears able to fire Toophan anti-tank missiles.

Read the Remainder at War is Boring

5 thoughts on “Know Your Weapons: The “Toophan”; The Iranian TOW Missile Knockoff

  1. Pingback: Know Your Weapons: The “Toophan”; The Iranian TOW Missile Knockoff | Rifleman III Journal

  2. Reblogged this on The way I see things … and commented:
    “In September 2015, U.S. and Australian warships stopped and searched a dhow, laden with anti-tank missiles allegedly sent from Iran for use by Houthi fighters in Yemen.
    The U.S. offered an up-close look at the seized weapons to the United Nations Panel of Experts on Yemen, which the Security Council established to provide information on individuals who threaten the “peace, security or stability of Yemen.”

    Iranian markings on seized Toophan equipment. Photo via the United Nations
    The panel’s January report included photographs of Toophan equipment seized from the dhow. The pictures show the launcher’s daysight tracker and power supply stamped with markings from Iran Electronics Industries. The daysight markings match those seen in a photograph of a Toophan originally posted to an Iranian military forum.”

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