Javelin anti-Tank Missile
The US-made Javelin missile has recently entered service with the UK military, replacing the Milan in the medium range anti-tank missile role.
The Javelin system offers several improvements over the ageing Milan. For one, the Javelin is a 'fire and forget' missile : once fired, the Javelin finds its own way to the target, unlike the wire-guided Milan which had to be steered. The infra-red seeker unit in the launch command unit is state of the art and a vast improvement on the Milan's MIRA sight.
The Javelin has several modes of flight including direct and an overfly-top-attack mode in which the missile arcs high then flies down onto the top of the target, thus getting around the heavy front armour of modern tanks. As with the Milan, Javelin warheads are also highly effective at taking out buildings, bunkers and fixed positions. The Javelin warhead is a 'tandem' configuration : the first shaped charge is designed to penetrate the target's outer defenses, such as reactive armour, whilst the second goes on to do further damage.
The Javelin system consists of a tripod, launch command unit (LCU) and launch tube assembly (LTA) which contains the missile itself. Javelins are usually manned by a crew of 2. A skilled crew can fire 2 rounds a minute. Maximum range is 2.5km.
US forces used the Javelin with great success during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Australian Special Forces took the Javelin missile system into battle on their Land Rovers. An Australian SAS soldier was decorated following an engagement between his Land Rover column and Iraq forces. The SAS man used the Javelin against Iraqi tanks with great effect.
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