Military Knowledge: Javelin FGM-148 anti-tank missile
The FGM-148 Javelin is an advanced US-made man-portable anti-tank missile system with “fire-and-forget” feature. The Javelin missile is developed and manufactured by Lockheed Martin and Raytheon for the United States Army and Marine Corps. The mid-range version of this missile has been in production since 1994 and the first Javelins were deployed with US Army units in 1996 And is constantly being upgraded. This missile has replaced the M47 Dragon anti-tank missile in the US Army since 2001.
The gunner carries a reusable Command Launch Unit (CLU), which is the targeting component of the two-part system. The CLU has three views which are used to find, target, and fire the missile and may also be used separately from the missile as a portable thermal sight. Infantry are no longer required to stay in constant contact with armored personnel carriers and tanks with thermal sights.
The CLU weighs 6.4 kg and uses passive infrared guidance to fix and track targets. The day sight is equipped with 4x magnification and the infrared-imaging night sight features 4x and 9x magnification.
Both the gunner and the ammunition bearer carry the Launch Tube Assembly, a disposable tube that houses the missile and protects the missile from harsh environments. The tube has built-in electronics and a locking hinge system that makes attachment and detachment of the missile to and from the Command Launch Unit a quick and simple process.
The Javelin measures roughly 1.2 m in length, 127 mm in diameter, and weighs 22.1 kg, with some minor differences depending on the variant. The missile carries a single 8.4 kg tandem-charge, high-explosive antitank (HEAT) warhead. This round utilizes an explosive shaped charge to create a stream of superplastically deformed metal formed from trumpet-shaped metallic liners. The result is a narrow high velocity particle stream that can penetrate armor. It has a qualified maximum range of 2,500, though the U.S. notes that it has “demonstrated performance to 4,000 meters in most operational conditions.”
The Javelin employs a soft launch mechanism. This means when an operator pulls the trigger, an initial low-g motor ejects the missile from the firing tube. Once it exits the firing tube, the missile then ignites its main flight motor to propel it toward its target. The Javelin’s soft launch mechanism prevents missile exhaust from hitting the operator, enables fires from inside confined spaces and buildings, lowers recoil for shoulder-launched fires, and minimizes launch smoke trails that indicate launch locations and invite counterfire.
Operators can select to use the weapon in top attack mode or direct attack mode. Top attack mode is designed to target tanks; the missile flies upward to reach a peak altitude of 150 m before striking the tank’s more vulnerable roof. The direct attack mode is designed to engage fortified targets, bunkers, buildings, and helicopters. In this mode, the missile flies relatively straight to its target at a peak altitude of 50 m.
Early versions of the Javelin had a range of 2000 meters, which was later increased to 2500 meters. Javelin has been used in more than 5000 conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. This system is supposed to remain in service until 2050. The United States has been buying Javelins at the rate of about 1,000 a year. The maximum production rate is 6,480 a year, though it would likely take a year or more to reach that level. The delivery time is 32 months; that is, once an order is placed, it will take 32 months before a missile is delivered.
FGM-148 Javelin specifications:
Length: 1.1 m
Barrel length 1.2 m
Diameter 142 mm
Total system weight: 22.3 kg
Warhead weight: 8.4 kg Tandem-charge HEAT
Penetration rate: 800 mm RHA
Effective range: 75 to 2500 m
Target discovery range: 4000 m
Guidance system: Infrared homing