How does the Javelin missile developed by the United States destroy tanks?

With a range of 2.5 km and able to penetrate the armor of many tanks, the US Javelin missile is considered one of the most effective anti-tank weapons in the world.

US soldiers use Javelin missiles on the battlefield in Syria. (Photo: The Defense Post)

Engraving of tanks

Today, along with the development of anti-tank weapons, the militaries of countries are also constantly offering upgrade programs for tanks, helping to improve their survivability on the battlefield. Modern tanks are equipped with not only one or two, but up to three defense systems of all kinds, capable of neutralizing many different lines of anti-tank missiles.

From the above actual needs, right from the end of the 1980s, the US military launched a program to develop an advanced anti-tank weapon system called AAWS-M, paving the way for the birth of Javelin a of the most effective anti-tank missiles in the world.

Javelin’s full name is FGM-148 Javelin – is the most modern “fire and forget” shoulder-fired anti-tank guided missile system of the US military, it is considered superior in terms of firing mechanism compared to many missiles, including the Russian 9M133 Kornet.

Javelin missiles are designed to destroy enemy tanks and armored vehicles, but it is also effective when directly attacking buildings, fortifications …, even the ability to shoot helicopters in “Rooftop” attack mode at the maximum height of 150 m and 60 m in direct attack mode.

Specifically, in the “roof-top” attack mode, after leaving the rocket launcher, the missile will fly to an altitude of 150 m above the target and then hit the roof of the tank and armored vehicle, which is the place with the thinnest armor. . Most of the tanks in the world could not survive Javelin’s attack from above.

A Javelin system weighs 11.8 kg; 1.1 m long; body diameter 127 mm; it is equipped with a powerful explosive warhead weighing 8.4 kg; effective range: 75 – 2,500 m; maximum range of nearly 5,000m – depending on the version.

Regarding the firing system cluster, Javelin is equipped with an infrared guide system that can be used in all weather conditions, regardless of day or night. This missile system consists of three main components – the controller, the launcher and the missile and the crew requires only 1-2 people.

The “rooftop” attack mode makes intercepting Javelin almost impossible. (Photo: The Economist)

It should also be added that the Javelin warhead belongs to the type of dual warhead specializing in explosive reactive armor destruction (ERA) equipped on modern tanks. The first warhead will activate the outer ERA block to reveal the main armor of the tank so that the second warhead penetrates with 650 mm of uniform steel.

It can be said that the appearance of Javelin has upset all the calculations of the tank designers and the addition of ERA armor to the tank, because they do not really make sense on the battlefield.

Javelin’s exploits

Since mass production in 1996, 45,000 rockets and 12,000 CLU controllers for Javelin have been built. As of January 2019, more than 5,000 Javelin missiles have been fired in combat.

Javelin is used by the US Army, Marine Corps and Australian Special Forces for a variety of purposes and has proven effective during the 2003 Iraq War, in counter-insurgency operations in Afghanistan, as well as other missions. combat operations in Syria. In addition, Javelin also appeared in many other conflicts around the world in which the US and its allies did not participate.

Compared to other anti-tank weapon systems, the Javelin is easy to detach and install when needed, although heavy, it is still lighter than many other missiles. This missile has a range of up to 4,750 m and high target damage. Although thermal imaging can interfere with targeting, Javelin allows soldiers to quickly evade after firing. When fired, Javelin creates a minimal jet stream, in addition to keeping the soldier’s location a secret, which allows Javelin to be used from narrow structures – Javelin’s advantage in urban warfare.

However, the weakness of this system is that it is heavier than conventional shoulder-fired missile models and is quite expensive, each Javelin missile shell costs more than 175,000 USD (in 2021). , while each CLU launch controller costs about $126,000. Another drawback is that the Javelin is quite dependent on thermal radiation for target detection and firing.

In order to improve the efficiency of the rocket, researches to improve the performance of the fuse, explosives, etc. are still being conducted. Although Javelin’s current HEAT warheads have proven effective against tanks, and other targets such as weapons, buildings, and armored and non-armored vehicles in Iraq and Afghanistan, the military The US team is continuing to develop new ammunition models for this missile system, typically the multi-purpose warhead (MPWH).

While still able to take out tanks, the new steel-cased warhead doubles its effectiveness against infantry by increasing fragmentation. The MPWH adds no weight or cost and has a lighter composite rocket fuselage.

When fired, Javelin creates a minimal jet stream, in addition to keeping the soldier’s location a secret, which allows Javelin to be used from narrow structures – Javelin’s advantage in urban warfare.

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