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Can the Javelin Anti-Tank Missile Win the Battle for Donbas?

Javelin
A soldier from the Idaho Army National Guard, Charlie Company, 2-116th Combined Arms Battalion, 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team makes Idaho National Guard history with the first firing of a Javelin anti-tank missile. In a historic moment of training for the Idaho Army National Guard, soldiers from Charlie Company, 2-116th Combined Arms Battalion, 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team, fired the FGM - Javelin portable anti-tank missile on Sunday while conducting a series of field training exercises scheduled for the week on the Orchard Combat Training Center ranges.

Can the Javelin tank killer keep up the pace in Ukraine? So far, this top-notch anti-tank missile system has been one of the stars of the Ukrainian army. You can find numerous photos and videos of obliterated Russian tanks and armored vehicles that have died at the hands of the Javelin. But combat is entering its second phase in the Donbas region. This fight will entail armored maneuver warfare on flat steppe lands instead of urban or forested terrain in which Ukrainian troops set up deadly ambushes with the Javelin. The combat in Donbas will instead likely entail the defenders firing from trenches at advancing tanks – a different use case for the venerable should-fired missiles.

Scary Threat for Russia

By now, Javelin puts the fear of God in Russian tankers. The missile can take a straight low-level trajectory or more dangerously, streak in an upward arc and then strike downward mightily on top of a tank’s turret. Crews never know what hit them when the tank is taken out or badly damaged at the very least.

Russians Will Use Artillery to Prep the Battlefield

But the Russians are getting used to the Javelin and they hope that a shock and awe artillery barrage against Ukrainian positions in Donbas will eliminate fighters using the weapon. Russian armored columns may also travel behind hunter-killer helicopters that can also thin the ranks of Ukrainian javelin operators.

Sing a Song in Salute

An estimated 7,000 Javelins have been donated to Ukraine since the invasion. They are so popular that Ukrainians sing songs that laud their prowess on the battlefield. The United States placed the Javelin in its inventory in 1996. It has seen many improvements since then.

A fire-and-forget system means it is not wire-guided which eliminates the need for an operator to guide the missile to paydirt. A soldier just has to acquire a target, launch, and then head to another covered and concealed position during the missile’s flight.

Where Is that Launch Site?

The high-explosive anti-tank round does the rest. This HEAT penetrating munition has been highly-effective against Russian tanks. The range is 1.5 miles. The Javelin also does not give a large backblast like other anti-tank systems, so it is difficult for the adversary to detect where the launch is coming from.

Is the American Supply Drying Up?

The United States has given the Ukrainians so many Javelins that there are concerns the Americans may run out of the anti-tank system. One-third of its arsenal may be depleted. It is estimated that there about 37,700 Javelins that have entered the Army inventory over the years, but only 20 to 25,000 remain. It takes over two years to make a Javelin which means it will take many months to replenish stockpiles.

So, the Army wants to limit what they donate. The Ukrainians may have to do their best with what they have now.

Javelin Turkey

Javelin anti-tank missile.

Kyiv

U.S. Army Spc. Colton Davis, an infantryman assigned to Company C, 2nd Battalion, 198th Armor Regiment, 155th Armored Brigade Combat Team, Mississippi Army National Guard, fires a Javelin shoulder-fired anti-tank missile during a combined arms live fire exercise as part of Exercise Eastern Action 2019 at Al-Ghalail Range in Qatar, Nov. 14, 2018. The multiple exposure photo demonstrates the multiple stages the missile goes through after it is fired by Davis. This is a multiple-exposure photo. (U.S. Army National Guard photo illustration by Spc. Jovi Prevot)

Oil Javelin

Javelin anti-tank missile. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

The Defense Can Be More Effective

That’s probably fine with the defenders because there are more Javelin missiles than there are Russian tanks. The combat in Donbas will be decisive and could influence the outcome of the war. The defense in armored warfare is sometimes better than the offense and that paradigm has played out in favor of the Ukrainians so far.

The Ambush Is On

In the Donbas, the defenders can create “kill zones” or ambush sites that use an array of anti-tank missiles and mines to deny access to Russian tanks. The armor would be forced to avoid the minefields and this movement would then put them in the sights of the Javelin. The Ukrainians could then sing that song about the Javelin with glee.

Now serving as 1945’s Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, Ph.D., is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood.

Written By

Now serving as 1945s New Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer.

22 Comments

22 Comments

  1. speedster

    April 21, 2022 at 5:12 pm

    Good article and impressive advice regarding focusing the invaders tanks into killing grounds, where the javelin can be used.
    The RUSSIANS have an antiquated railway system which they use to transport their military, which makes them vulnerable to supply line disruptions.The intelligence on the invaders movements supplied to the Ukrainian, will give them the edge.
    The other problem for the Russian invaders, is that they have yet to find the fictitious neo nazis invented by the Russian propaganda department.
    Russian dead and wounded total approximately 80,000, out of the original 150,000 invasion force. So the invaders have tacked together neurological victims of shell shock with the mercenary Wagner group. Not a good premise for a Putin down on his luck.

  2. Vladolph Putler

    April 21, 2022 at 5:34 pm

    Oh those poor Ukrainians. Where would they be without the Javelin?

    Well… They would be firing their Soviet era ATGM’s and their domestically produced remote SACLOS (StugnaP) missiles. Along with domestically guided artillery shells etc. fired from their VAST reserves of Soviet era tanks and artillery systems.

    Let’s get real with it. We gave the Ukrainians the Javelin because we thought they would LOSE. And when they lost, MANPAD systems would make it very painful for the Russians. But Ukrainians DIDN’T lose. Not even close. They bled the Russians so badly the invading forces didn’t even know what to DO.

    The Ukrainians have performed well. Shockingly well to some, not to others such as the CA National Guard who trained with them. Russian arrogance, incompetence, and disgusting brutality was a grim reminder of who they apparently still are though.

    So what won if it wasn’t the almighty Javelin? Benevolence of which Ukrainians simply couldn’t SURVIVE? Same as any competent military. Good combined arms warfare, careful planning, and **free people**- which is more of a force multiplier than is generally given credit. Operational flexibility down the ranks is potent. Though precision fires from very modest drone systems of many types was employed with remarkable skill and ingenuity- to devastating effectiveness.

    And artillery. Lots of artillery. Corrected by good (!) comms and drones. Which the Ukrainians rightfully seek to correct the record on:

    https://euromaidanpress.com/2022/04/20/javelins-are-good-but-it-is-artillery-strikes-that-coined-ukraines-military-success/

    • Town22

      April 23, 2022 at 12:31 pm

      Right you are. Some armchair Generals gave the Ukrainians a week for them to fold.

      • Jesus

        April 23, 2022 at 1:55 pm

        Likely given that UKRAINIANS are fighting on home turf with vast land areas to fall back and regroup and then re-engage and are highly motivated with effective anti armour weapons.. so that it comes down to logistics…armies throughout history survive and prosper upon its supply train…

  3. Everett Cheseldine

    April 21, 2022 at 7:25 pm

    Where did the author get his poor information? It does not take 2 years to produce a Javelin missile system. Absolutely bad information.

    • Town22

      April 23, 2022 at 12:16 pm

      Don’t want to give info our enemies who are monitoring here. Yes, they have a lot of paid agents reading everything concerning weapons advancements.

  4. Vladolph Putler

    April 21, 2022 at 8:33 pm

    Probably just misspoke. There have been estimates that to replace the inventory given to Ukraine could take two years at current production rates. But that puts the newest versions in US military storage, and peacetime production rates could be ramped up. Probably not necessary though.

    Instead of being mothballed until expiration date, they are making Russian junk much junkier.

  5. Alex

    April 21, 2022 at 11:05 pm

    Yes, javelins that are destroyed in warehouses or end up in the hands of the people’s militia of Donbass are very helpful:
    According to statistics on April 21, since the beginning of the operation, Russia has destroyed Ukrainian equipment: 99% of tanks and other armored vehicles of Ukraine (2410 out of 2416 vehicles that were in Ukrainian troops on February 24), 92% of military aircraft (140 out of 152), 71% of the fleet helicopters (106 out of 149), 48% of MLRS installations (262 out of 535) and so on. This does not take into account the equipment that may have entered the Ukrainian troops after the start of the special operation, but in any case, the Air Force and Air Defense of Ukraine were practically destroyed, and the Navy ceased to exist.
    In addition, the United States has reduced the number of javelins by almost a third. This is a lot for the army.

    • Jesus

      April 23, 2022 at 1:40 pm

      Are you a russian witha boyfriend named little PUTTY? How many bj’s? Logic dictates your LIES about your typical Russian statistical lies…russians are known to be great liers.. if any of it was true there would be Russian occupation of kiev…. instead they retreated like the true cowards and animals that they are….
      More likely is that UKRAINE is using small tactical units armed with any kind of antitank weapons to hit the vast Russian tank formations and are not using tanks, or planes or armored vehicles in these defenses.. so your statistics are IRRESPONSIBLE rubbish.. now we see if same small unit close up tactics can work in the more open terrain… whatever.. I dare you little Alexandra to be the lead russian tanker in those armored columns… little putin likely won’t be getting your sexual thrills anytime soon… hell reunion would be your destiny

  6. CK

    April 22, 2022 at 5:45 am

    Give it a rest Alex. People don’t buy statistics on the best of days, but even less so from you.

    No amount of copy pasting will help paper over the void in your life that is where your self-respect should be.

  7. Alex

    April 23, 2022 at 9:38 am

    Do you want to see how the Bandera Nazi manages the Javelin? Give the monkey a grenade and watch 🙂

  8. Thomas Bleming

    April 23, 2022 at 1:21 pm

    Ukraine 🇺🇦 WILL end up being the victor in the battle.
    The amount of Russian dead will skyrocket and their bodies will become fertilize the ground.

  9. CK

    April 23, 2022 at 1:50 pm

    It’s funny Alex, because even a monkey with a grenade would probably be more combat effective than the poor Russian morons you charitably refers as “soldiers”.

    You’d have a lot to learn from a monkey.

  10. William Craddock

    April 23, 2022 at 2:43 pm

    As you might’ve read earlier comments I already posted, this war, which’s been allowed by Pres. Brandon Biden to drag out too long, long enough to give Putin’s Army the ability to penetrate deeply into Ukraine to ravage cities and Murder Civilians, could’ve and should’ve been a done deal within a week of Putin’s invaders crossing into Ukraine. Excellent tactical handheld weapons like the Javelin and the Stinger fired by the brave Ukraineans have made a difference, however due to Biden’s tactical timidity in F’ing up the transfer of the polish MIG 29’s, as well as failure to bring to bear both U.S./Allied ordnance, stealthily and clandestinely delivered at night by our B-2 and F-35 assets would’ve easily wasted Putin’s air, sea and ground Units now ravaging innocent Civilians and cities as we speak.

  11. Alex

    April 24, 2022 at 4:40 am

    So who is losing? Obviously not Russia.

    American Colonel Martin spoke about Biden’s failure in Ukraine.

    US President Joe Biden has failed in his policy towards Ukraine. This opinion was expressed in a column on The Washington Post website by retired American Colonel Wes Martin.

    The head of the White House, as noted in the material, tried to prevent the Ukrainian conflict by diplomatic measures – and could not. The author referred to the statement of the former acting. CIA Director Michael Morell, who expressed the opinion that Biden’s attacks on Russian leader Vladimir Putin only “rallied the beleaguered Russian elite.” “Not a single citizen of Russia will put up with the fact that the main enemy of his state inspires him what kind of power in his country can be and what is not,” Martin quoted Morell as saying.

    “Proving once again that he is nowhere near Reagan, Biden publicly called Putin a ‘butcher’ and a ‘war criminal.’ through Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin,” the author of the material noted.
    Ukraine and Afghanistan are far from the only reasons why Biden’s ratings have slipped to an all-time low of 42 percent. People, Martin notes, are unimpressed by his foreign policy experience. Do not add popularity and record inflation of 8.5 percent and a sharp rise in energy prices – the harbingers of a recession.

    At the end of March, NBC News published the results of a poll, according to which 53 percent of Americans believe that the country will begin a long-term recession, which will lead to the loss of American leadership in the world. When answering the question about Biden’s ability to correctly respond to the situation around Ukraine, only 12 percent of respondents expressed complete confidence in the actions of the head of administration.

    CNN, in turn, reported that the confidence rating of US President Joe Biden has reached a record low. According to a generalized analysis of polls published by four organizations last week, the level of confidence in the US president is about 41%, and according to one of them – only 33%. This is a record low compared to all of Biden’s predecessors in the same period of the presidential term.

  12. CK

    April 24, 2022 at 6:26 am

    @Alex – deny, deflect, obfuscate. Seriously, that’s you in a book.

    Don’t look at Putin! Look at Biden! Don’t look at what we’re doing in Ukraine, look at your country! Recession, CNN, political division, look elsewhere, but please, don’t look at what is happening in Russia! Internet Research Agency script in a nutshell.

    Also, poor you man, they are making you work on Orthodox Easter? The night money Sveta brings not enough to keep you guys afloat anymore? Let me know if you need any donations. I’m sure I have a few cents lying around that will be worth a fortune in roubles!

  13. Alex

    April 25, 2022 at 10:42 am

    Yes, Russia has big “problems”:
    There is the Donetsk People’s Republic. There is the Luhansk People’s Republic. Kherson applied to Russia for a referendum to establish the Kherson People’s Republic. God bless the Ukrainians of Donbass!

  14. CK

    April 25, 2022 at 10:57 am

    Yes Alex, and Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania also re-applied to join the Russian Federation. In this reality, Putin has conquered his hemorrhoids, and you and Sveta live happily ever after.

    It’s nice to sit back and daydream, isn’t it? 🙂

  15. Alex

    April 26, 2022 at 2:13 am

    Why is Russia with the people’s militia of Donbass taking new territories of Ukraine every day? Let’s figure it out:

    The West failed to turn much of the world against Russia after the military operation in Ukraine began, columnist Howard French wrote in an article for Foreign Policy magazine.
    According to him, many states did not support sanctions against Moscow, including such large countries as India and China.

    “In fact, when counting the population of these countries, it becomes clear that the states representing the majority of humanity have not taken a position in this conflict, seeing in it the familiar echoes of the former rivalry between East and West,” said French.
    According to the observer, the international political system that took shape at the beginning of the twentieth century from the very beginning gave the countries of the “third world” the status of second-class states. As an example, he cited the colonization of Africa by European countries.

    “It was the work of the enslaved millions of people who grew sugar and cotton in huge quantities, cleared the land and did all other unpaid work that made the American colonies profitable for Europe, and the so-called “Old World” new and rich,” the author emphasized.

    French urged not to ignore the heightened sense of justice among the former colonized peoples.

    “The whole world” with Ukraine 🙂

  16. CK

    April 26, 2022 at 7:29 am

    Well Alex, if that is the case, we wish you the best of luck with your new Chinese masters. I hear they are very kind to minorities.

  17. Alex

    April 29, 2022 at 9:26 am

    If someone wants to know the truth about the civil war in the Donbass, about all the atrocities of the Bandera clean-ups and why Russia was forced to intervene, then it is better to watch films by independent journalists. There are already many such journalists who fight for truth and freedom. For example, a documentary by the German journalist Wilhelm Domcke-Schulz.

    A documentary film about the war crimes of the Bandera Nazis during the period of Russia’s special military operation to denazify and demilitarize Ukraine is in production. It will be a real information bomb, where the war crimes of Bandera Nazis will be shown and proved.

    The documentary “Remember Odessa” tells how the Bandera Nazis burned Ukrainians alive and other heinous war crimes.

    The documentary “To Live and Die in Donbass” tries to fill this gaping information gap in the West. He looks into the tormented soul of the inhabitants of Donbass, who really want only one thing – to live self-determining according to their own rules and values. Not submitting to foreign forces and ideologies.

    In the east of Ukraine, in the Donbass, a war has been raging since the beginning of 2014. A civil war that claimed more than 15,000 lives over the years, including several hundred children. They had to die, because the national-fascist coup government in Kyiv, funded by the West, trained and militarily heavily armed, would not tolerate any resistance to their illegitimate rule, no matter the cost.

    Therefore, in April 2014, the putschists deployed the Ukrainian army, supported by dozens of right-wing extremist volunteer battalions, and have since bombed city centers, residential areas, schools, hospitals and infrastructure, killing civilians.

    This perennial crime has gone completely unnoticed by the Western public. Politicians and the media avoid this topic and reports about how the devil pours holy water. Because a public discussion about the crimes of the Ukrainian regime would reveal only one thing – with what mass murderers and terrorists the so-called “west of values” in Ukraine has a common language, if only to defend their goals and interests.

    Lend-lease is a commodity loan, and not cheap: for all the ammunition, equipment and food supplied by the United States, many future generations of Ukrainian citizens will pay. Zelensky is driving the country into a debt hole.

  18. CK

    April 29, 2022 at 2:09 pm

    Ah, I see your tactic. You add a little shitty first paragraph so it doesn’t detect your duplicate post. Is this what it has come to now, you just posting the same exact post 2, 3, 4, 5 times per article?

    Wow, did they run out of paper in Russia, Alex? You guys can’t print new material? Literally using the same lines, over and over again, and now in duplicate in every post!

    Are you so defeated you can’t even come up with anything new? How sad. Now the idiot is talking about lend-lease at the end of his post, because he literally just copy + pasted it from another thread, with zero relevance to this one.

    Here’s a reminder:

    If someone wanted to know the truth about anything in Ukraine Alex, the last person they would go to is you.

    Paragraphs and paragraphs of bollocks, dubious claims about “independent journalists”, random documentarians, conspiracy theorists, deluded claims that of course, have no backup, lie after lie after lie.

    Classical Kremlin troll approach. Just flood the internet, the comments, the media, with tosh, doesn’t matter what it is, just make sure you write some old nonsense. Make sure to say the claim is supported by some dude in Germany, France, the states. If it’s a “documentary” (usually from youtube) then the better.

    Anything that victimises Russia, always the victim, always the bullied, never the problem. It’s always the Nazis. It’s always some pseudo-historical point.

    Anyone that has had the misfortune to study your “tactics” sees the forest for the trees, the pattern of lies, disinformation, blanketing of random claims, deflection, obfuscation, and other words beyond your vocabulary.

    It’s hopeless Alex. Your lies are as short as your intellect. What a pathetic job, to sit in your government shed, spreading your pathetic, government lies.

    A pathetic job for a truly pathetic man. A better match could not be made in heaven.

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