The Javelin missile is a portable anti-tank weapon system that can destroy a variety of armored vehicles, buildings, helicopters, and other targets. It is designed to be fire-and-forget, meaning that the user does not need to guide the missile after launch. The missile uses infrared guidance to automatically track and hit its target.
The Javelin missile was developed by a joint venture between Texas Instruments (now Raytheon Missile Systems) and Martin Marietta (now Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control) in response to a US Army requirement for an Advanced Anti-Tank Weapon System-Medium (AAWS-M) in 1986.
The first test flight of the Javelin was successful in 1991, and the first firing test was successful in 1994. The Javelin entered full-rate production in 1994 and was first deployed by the US Army at Fort Benning, Georgia, in June 1996. The Javelin replaced the M47 Dragon anti-tank missile in US service.
It has been continuously upgraded since its introduction, with improvements such as increased range, enhanced warhead, reduced weight, and better software. The Javelin has been used by US forces and allies in various conflicts, such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.
The Javelin missile consists of two main components: a reusable command launch unit (CLU) and a disposable launch tube assembly (LTA) that contains the missile round. The CLU weighs about 6.4 kg and has an integrated day/night sight with thermal imaging capability. The LTA weighs about 15.9 kg and has a soft-launch mechanism that ejects the missile from the tube before igniting its rocket motor.
The user can operate the Javelin either from a shoulder-fired position or from a tripod-mounted position. The user can also mount the CLU on a vehicle or use it as a standalone surveillance device. To fire the Javelin, the user first selects a target using the CLU’s sight. Then, the user presses a trigger to lock on to the target’s infrared signature.
Once locked on, the user presses another trigger to launch the missile. The missile flies towards its target using automatic self-guidance. It can take either a top attack or a direct attack flight profile depending on the situation. In top attack mode, which is preferred against armored vehicles, the missile climbs above its target and strikes it from above where its armor is usually thinner. In direct attack mode, which is used against buildings or targets too close for top attack mode, such as helicopters or targets under obstructions, the missile flies straight toward its target without climbing.
The missile has a tandem-shaped charge warhead that can penetrate up to 600 mm of rolled homogeneous armor (RHA) after defeating explosive reactive armor (ERA). The warhead also has an incendiary effect that can cause secondary damage or fire inside the target.
The Javelin provides infantry soldiers with a powerful anti-tank weapon that can defeat modern armored threats at long ranges without exposing themselves to enemy fire. The fire-and-forget feature of the missile allows soldiers to quickly relocate after firing or engage multiple targets simultaneously.
The Javelin also enhances situational awareness for soldiers by providing them with thermal imaging capability that can detect targets even in low-visibility conditions such as night time or bad weather. Furthermore, the Javelin contributes to interoperability among allied forces by being compatible with NATO standards and widely exported to friendly countries such as Australia, Canada, France, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Taiwan, Turkey, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom.
|Type:||Anti-tank guided missile (ATGM)|
|Country of origin:||United States|
|Manufacturer:||Raytheon & Lockheed Martin|
|In service:||1996 – present|
|Users:||Australia, Bahrain, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Georgia, Indonesia, Ireland, Jordan, Lithuania, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Poland, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States|
|Weight:||22.3 kg (loaded)|
|Missile length:||1.1 m|
|Barrel length:||1.2 m|
|Missile warhead:||Tandem-charge high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT)|
|Missile weight:||8.4 kg|
|Operational range:||4,000 m +|
|Sights:||Optical sight and thermal imaging|
|Launch platform:||Shoulder-fired; vehicle-mounted|