Made by the US, Wielded by Ukraine, Feared by Russia

From the time Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his “particular army operation” on Feb. 24, 2022, his goal, Ukraine, proved to be something however low-hanging fruit. Ferocious although their resistance was, nonetheless, it could not have lasted so long as it did — three months and nonetheless counting, as of Could 2022 — had it not been the important weaponry and ammunition supplied to the Ukrainians from quite a few international supporters by way of what has amounted to a 21st century type of World Warfare II’s Lend-Lease program.

Among the many most noticeable weapons credited with standing as much as overwhelming waves of Russian tanks has been a state-of-the-art, infantry-operated guided missile. The Individuals who produced it name it the FGM-148 AAWS-M (for “Superior Antitank Weapon System-Medium”), however a lot of its present customers have come to name it “Saint Javelin, Protector of Ukraine.”  


The FGM-148 entered service in 1996 as a alternative for the M47 Dragoon. The newest mannequin is the FGM-148F, and an upgraded FGM-148G is within the works.

Weighing 49 kilos, the Javelin has superior electronics which have progressively improved to afford the operator fire-and-forget functionality. Utilizing the connected Command Launch Unit, the operator goals and fires, the missile being spring-ejected earlier than igniting and touring on towards the goal at a fee of 1,000 ft each seven seconds, guided by an infrared seeker within the nostril.

Upon contact, the foremost of two tandem high-explosive antitank, or HEAT, warheads explodes towards the reactive armor, clearing the best way for the second warhead to achieve the tank’s foremost armor. The Javelin’s warheads can penetrate metal as much as 23.5 inches to 31.5 inches thick. With an efficient vary over 1.5 miles, the Javelin’s warhead travels 213 ft earlier than it arms — nevertheless it does produce a backblast that the consumer should take note of.

Although its vary falls under the two.3-mile efficient vary of the BGM-71 tube-launched, optically guided, wire-guided, or TOW missile, the Javelin is way lighter and handier for operation by a single skilled infantryman. Just like the TOW, nonetheless, it may be mounted on a car if one is out there.


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The USA has claimed that of the primary 112 Javelins it used, 100 hit the targets, each instantly and on trajectories from above, the place tank armor is thinner and extra weak to penetration.

The Command Launch Unit, which might amplify targets as much as 4 occasions, will be faraway from the weapon system and used as a light-weight optical gadget and evening sight.


Javelins have been bought to army companies all around the world, and U.S. Military, U.S. Marine and Australian forces have used them to good impact in Iraq and Afghanistan, the place its accuracy at better ranges than different weapons made it helpful towards enemy strongpoints in addition to transferring automobiles.

Though it has seen its share of fight since its introduction to service, it has been in Ukraine that the Javelin has attained legendary standing. The nation had already bought 210 missiles and 37 launchers in March 2018, for $47 million, adopted by one other order in June 2020 for $150 million extra.

These got here swiftly into play when Putin despatched within the tanks, making the Russian advance a expensive one on all fronts. The Ukrainians have claimed greater than 230 tanks and armored automobiles destroyed to date, though it ought to be famous that they produce other antitank weapons which will have contributed to that statistic, as effectively.

Neither is the Javelin with out its weaknesses, significantly its vulnerability to dropping the distinction needed for a missile lock at daybreak or nightfall, or if the goal shoots off clouds of infrared-blocking smoke.

The principal grievance from Ukrainians in regards to the Javelins, nonetheless, is that there by no means appear to be sufficient of them. They’ve already acquired greater than 5,500 missiles, and america and different allies have pledged to ship extra, however they’re costly and time consuming to supply — 6,840 per yr at $176,000 per system. In aiding the Ukrainians, the U.S. has despatched off as a lot as two-thirds of its current arsenal, which can’t be instantly changed.

Happily for the Ukrainians, they do have a complement of different efficient gentle infantry anti-armor weapons and have turn out to be skilled in making each shot depend. In the intervening time, although, the Javelin has acquired so literarily iconic a spot within the Ukrainian arsenal that experiences have are available of a neighborhood artist creating a chunk of mock conventional spiritual artwork depicting Mary Magdalene holding a Javelin. New child Ukrainian infants have reportedly been christened “Javelin” or “Javelina.”  

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