The M901 ITV ("Improved TOW Vehicle") is a specially-devised variant of the M113 Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) intended for the Anti-Tank (AT) role. As such, it is a tracked weapons carrier - retaining all key qualities of the M113 series - for the twin M220 TOW Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM) launcher unit to counter the threat posed by modern Main Battle Tanks (MBTs) today. The vehicle has been produced in three major variants and has been adopted by some ten nations including the United States (Army).
The M901 ITV is a 13-ton vehicle requiring a crew of four - driver, commander, gunner and loader. It features a length of 16 feet, a width of 8 feet, 10 inches and a height of 11 feet. Its compact dimensions allow it to be carried in the hold of a Lockheed C-130 Hercules-class aircraft and airdropped where needed - giving warplanners some tactical flexibility. The TOW missile launcher is fitted to the top of the hull roof in an extendable/collapsible mount which, when collapsed, brings the vehicle's profile down to 9 feet, 8 inches. The vehicle sports equipment that allows the crew to track, target and engage enemy forces in both night and day hours while the turret can engage at any angle along front, sides, and rear of the vehicle through an unobstructed hull roof design (elevation/depression is limited to +34 and -30 degrees). The turret also can be dismounted from the vehicle and used in its traditional ground-based way, allowing the crew to arrange a well-timed ambush against an approaching tank. One key detriment of the M901's design is that it cannot fire while on-the-move. Ten TOW missile reloads are carried in addition to two already in the launching system for a total of twelve shots. The loader is largely protected by the vehicle when reloading occurs. The M901 is also designed with smoke grenade dischargers that can be used to cover its advance/retreat and an included 7.62mm machine gun adds an anti-infantry measure. A rectangular door at the rear of the hull allows the crew to enter/exit at speed if needed. The M901 is fully amphibious, allowing it to partake in amphibious operations.
Variants of the M901 include the original M901 vehicle mark with its M220A1 TOW missile system. This was followed by the M901A1 with its use of the improved M220A2 TOW-2 missile system. The last incarnation has become the M901A3 which retains the M220A2 TOW-2 missile system but incorporates the improvements seen in the corresponding M113A3 APC mark.
The M901 has been exported to Bahrain, Egypt, Greece, Jordan, Morocco, Pakistan, Portugal, Thailand, and Tunisia. The American Army largely relies on the TOW-equipped Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) for the mobile AT role today. The M981 FISTV ("Fire Support Team Vehicle") is similar in form to the M901 though it is used to designate targets via laser and does not directly engage.