No one can keep a straight face and ridicule the Javelin Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM). If ever a legitimate game-changer existed, the Javelin fills that role to the hilt. I personally fired just a single round of the Javelin, and it would not be at all ludicrous to declare that it is difficult to miss with it.
I fired the weapon when the shipment of the first-ever Javelins arrived at Fort Bragg in 2000. The entire consignment of nine weapons went straight to the Delta Force for testing and trial and error observation. None of the missiles missed their mark.
The Javelin has the distinction of being a Any Known Armor (AKA) weapon. This means that it can defeat any known armor. There are several American anti-armor weapons systems and ammunition that carry the AKA designation besides the Javelin: the AT-4 ATGM, TOW ATGM, 90mm recoilless rifle, the Abrams M-1 Main Battle Tank (MBT), the Hellfire missile, and others.
Above is a photo I personally took of one of the first nine Javelin ATGMs. Note the tail end of the rocket on the far left of the picture. The weapon features a smaller launch engine that pushes it out and away from the gunner, at which point the main engine kicks in and thrusts it out and onto the selected target. Also, note a slight bit of flinch from the observers in the background. A picture is worth one thousand words.
The reason for the initial booster and secondary attack charge is to get the missile out of the tube and away from the gunner so as not to thrash him with rocket blast and potential secondary projectiles which could injure him or cause a disturbed launch. This feature makes the Javelin safe and easy to launch.
The missile is fitted with two shaped charges: a precursor warhead to detonate any explosive reactive armor and a primary warhead to penetrate base armor.
Related: Infantry anti-tank weapons throughout the ages
One of the most useful and deadly features of the Javelin is the inclusion of fire-and-forget technology; that means once the gunner has a good sight picture of his target he can lock on the fire-and-forget feature and retreat from his firing position post haste. He can be long gone from his location leaving the expended tube behind as trash and toting the removed fire-and-control assembly with him.
It is conceivable that a good gunner can have two rockets descending on different targets simultaneously. The spent rocket tubes are expendable; the gunner only needs to unhook the fire and control system from the spent tube and attach it to another rocket tube.
Another amazing feature of the Javelin is its ability to attack a target from a straight trajectory or oblique angle and the gunner can select between the two.
If the target is out in the open without frontal protection, the shooter can use the Javelin’s straight line-of-sight mode. But if the target has overhead cover, the missile will climb up to 150 meters and drop down to destroy it from above; in those cases, if the target is a tank, the Javelin will usually strike the turret where armor is typically thinner.
In both modes, the Javelin will likely hit and destroy any target that the gunner gets a positive lock onto.
Related: Russia uses ‘relic’ weapons in Ukraine, including the 9K111 Fagot anti-tank system
As a worthy aside, the maximum range of the weapon is a tidy 8,200 meters. When we tested the missile back in 2000, we found ourselves launching Javelins, having coffee, and fixing up some victuals waiting for this thing to make landfall.
I must tell you that a staunch sense of pride rose up in us men-folk as we unleashed our county’s modern might onto enemy targets, knowing that our counter-armor potential was among the best of the world. It can’t get any greater, but our soldiers on the friendly side of such devastating power can only improve it with constant proficiency and out-of-box thinking power.
“It works well… except when it doesn’t.” (Author UNK)
By Almighty God and with honor,
Feature Image: Infantrymen fire a Javelin in a desert environment. (Photo by Sgt. Liane Hatch/ 3rd Brigade Combat Team 4th Infantry Division)
Read more from Sandboxx News
- This is what made the cadet rifle so useful for military forces around the world
- 11 ways to honor military kids during Month of the Military Child
- This is how you can join the Ukraine Foreign Legion (and who can join it)
- Images surface of secretive US MALD flying decoy used in Ukraine. But what is MALD?
- The Army starts to field its new armored personnel carrier
Portable, easy to use (fire and forget), gets the job done, one person, use against aircraft
Cons: not nearly as powerful as Kornets, not nearly the range as Kornets, easier to confuse fire and forget (thermal decoys etc).
Significantly stronger, significantly further range, can be mounted to and fired from inside vehicles with multiple missiles making almost any vehicle a tank killer, use against aircraft, can’t confuse the technology bc it’s lazer guided.
Cons: larger and heavier, less portable, takes two people to fire, lazer guided is not fire and forget.
While the javelin is a “game changer” against countries in an asymmetrical sense, it isn’t going to be a “game changer” against Russia any more than the Kornet will be against us. If one watches a video of an Abrams tank being hit by one, it’s like a cardboard box being doused with gasoline and lit on fire.
I was wondering why the US military was so hesitant to send these, researched for a while and found out why.
Stay safe tank crews!
george e. hand iv says
A powerful string of comments, brother Matt–thank you! You know as well as I do that the Javelin does not require a second person (assistant gunner [AG]) to help fire the weapon. In my own photo you can see the gunner and some spectators… but no assistant gunner.
It is in fact a fire-and-forget weapon, as we were taught to immediately kick off the spent tube as soon as it was fired so we could scramble to another firing position before any enemy could find us. Or, we kicked it off so we could affix another rocket while the inflight projectile was in flight to its target–fire-and-forget.
The Javelin has already been a robust game-changer by its own right.
Thanks for participating in this forum, Matt. I like controversy; it promotes progress.
geo respectfully sends
Great article Geo. I just looked them up on YouTube to see them in action. I bet they are the cause of many TBI but they are an awesome sight to see go off.
george e. hand iv says
Ms. Irene, the Javelin was not quite the noise/concussion hazard to a man like, say for instance, the 84 mm Carl Gustav recoilless rifle. It is recommended that a single person fire only once per day due to the hideous concussion and its propensity to affect the tearing of the pericardium (heart sack). But you know as well as I do that when the $hit hits the fan, it’s time to stay alive.
Thank you, Geo! This is a very interesting article, and well explained for a reader like me who knows little about weapons. You the best!
george e. hand iv says
You’re most welcome, Lady Mic-Mac,
I try to explain things from a civilian point de vu. I think generally I do a good job; specifically, I still distance some things, though unintentionally.
Joy B says
I’m guessing that y’all went home with your ears ringing for hours and big smiles?
george e. hand iv says
RGR-Doger, lady Joie… they ring to this day–not kidding!