A U.S.-manufactured antitank missile has taken on new prominence in Syria’s years-long civil war.
While the Obama administration has officially maintained it won’t provide heavy weapons like the Raytheon-produced BGM-71 TOW missile to rebels battling the Assad regime, a CIA-led effort has supplied the system to opposition groups for more than a year now.
The weapon has had such a devastating impact on the Assad regime’s ground forces that Russia has allegedly focused its airstrikes in the country on areas where rebels have utilized it in order to regain territory.
Saudi Arabia, which has purchased thousands of the missiles over the years, has reportedly delivered 500 of them to rebel groups to bolster their campaign against Damascus.
AeroWeb, a firm that analyzes aerospace and defense market data, says the system costs around $60,000 per unit.
In a fact sheet, Raytheon touts that the missile, first fielded in 1970, is utilized by more than 40 countries and has been integrated on over 15,000 ground-based and helicopter platforms.
In July, the Defense Department announced that it had been given the okay by the State Department to sell 1,500 missiles to Lebanon for $245 million.