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The Javelin Missile - Targeting Tanks and Helicopters

Fire and Forget Missile Has Proved Effective In Combat


The Javelin Missile - Targeting Tanks and Helicopters
official Army photo

The FGM-148 Javelin missile is effective against targets on the ground and in the sky.

Fire and Forget

The FGM-148 Javelin is a guided missile used by the U.S. military in combat zones around the world. The Javelin is known as a "fire and forget" missile because it has automatic self-guidance and does not require a soldier to steer the missile into a target after it is launched. Although the Javelin is primarily used as an anti-tank missile and fired at targets on the ground, it has also proved effective at destroying low flying aerial vehicles, particularly helicopters. The Javelin missile can be fired 500 feet into the air.

The Javelin missile is portable and typically operated by two soldiers. One soldier fires the missile, while the second soldier helps load the missile launcher and identifies targets and potential danger. The missiles are operated using an imaging infrared seeker guidance system that targets heat. Each Javelin missile has a warhead that consists of two charges – one to detonate explosives and the other to penetrate armor found on tanks and armored personnel carriers (APC).

Effective in Iraq

The Javelin missile has been in use with the U.S. military since 1996. Each missile costs about $40,000.00, and they are manufactured by Lockheed Martin Corp. and the Raytheon Company. The missiles have been used extensively in Iraq since 2003, and have proved effective against Iraqi T-72 and Type 69 tanks. Many allies of the U.S.  have adopted versions of the Javelin missile system – including Australia, the United Kingdom and France.

Soldiers have praised the Javelin missile launcher system for its easy set-up, portability, self-guidance, and the fact that there is little back blast when firing the weapon. Other missile launcher systems are more cumbersome to use. For example, a BGM-71 TOW anti-tank guided missile requires soldiers to set-up a heavy tripod stand before firing that weapon. The biggest complaint that soldiers have voiced about the Javelin missile is that, at 50 pounds, it can be tiring to carry the weapon for long distances on foot.   

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