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Smart Bombs: Military, Defense and National Security

Javelin: The Missile That Is Slaughtering Putin’s Tanks In Ukraine

Javelin Anti-Tank Weapon.

Javelin Anti-Tank Maker Gets a Boost from the President – You know a weapons system has become a part of the everyday lexicon when the politicians get involved. The American Javelin anti-tank missile has become so ubiquitous and decisive in Ukraine that even President Joe Biden takes a personal interest. Biden toured the plant in Alabama on May 3, where the launcher and missiles were produced. This is a show of resolve for his latest $33 billion additional assistance package for Ukraine that he wants Congress to approve.

Biden Speaks as Javelin Missiles Surround Him

“I urge the Congress to pass this funding quickly to help Ukraine continue to succeed against Russian aggression, just as they did when they won the battle of Kyiv and to make sure the United States and our allies can replenish our own stock of weapons to replace what we’ve sent to Ukraine,” Biden said to reporters at the Lockheed Martin facility in Troy, Alabama.

Pumping Out the Javelins

Five thousand and fifty Javelins have been produced in the Alabama location and these have been transferred to Ukraine. Others will be sent to replace American stockpiles. Biden congratulated workers for making a difference in the war effort since the Russians invaded.

Employees Are Enthusiastic

The 265-workers in Alabama have much to be proud of. The Javelin has been a potent weapon that the Ukrainians have wielded against Russian tanks and armored vehicles, and sometimes, even low-flying helicopters. 

Don’t Get In the Way

The Javelin is portable, shoulder-fired, and “fire and forget,” which means it has a tracking system that doesn’t require the operator to sight the target all the way in to paydirt. The soldier can shoot and then immediately move to another protected site right after launch. The missile can destroy targets up to three miles away.

Workers Are Patriotic

The last time a weapon has created this much hype was probably the Patriot surface-to-air missile system during Operation Desert Storm. The media visited that factory too to fire up the workers and allow them to bask in the glow of a quick victory in that war.

Putin Never Knew What Was In-Store

Vladimir Putin overlooked that the Western defense industrial base would be united against him and his forces. American ingenuity, at least for the Javelin, got the best of him in the armored portion of the war so far.

Moreover, employees in defense manufacturing do not always get to look at the final product they have constructed. Many weapons remain on the shelf and are only removed for training purposes and then are placed back in storage promptly.

The experience of the Javelin in this war has been different. Now the employees are getting to see the fruits of their labor against an unjust foe that plays out in near real-time on social media.

Makes Tank Warfare a Questionable Proposition

Javelins can be given some credit for changing the course of battle in Ukraine. Russian tanks are weak in the turret in their armor system. The Javelin missile can arc upward and dive down on the tank’s vulnerable points. Russian crew members sit close to the T-72’s ammunition, so a direct hit from the Javelin can create a massive fireball that results in no survivors.

Javelin Missile

Royal Marines Drone Swarms

Pictured are Royal Marines from Fire Support Troop, Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines engaging Taliban positions with a mortar and a Javelin medium range anti-tank guided weapon.
The Marines were engaging Taliban positions near the Southern Forward Line of Enemy Troops (FLET) or Frontline, near Kajaki, Northern Helmand Province Afghanistan. The Operation was part of Operation Ghartse Spike and RECCE Troop 40 Commando and elements of the Afghan National Army (ANA) supported them. 40 Commando RM were halfway through their 6 month deployment to Afghanistan.

Ukraine War

Infantry Soldiers with 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, fire an FGM-148 Javelin during a combined arms live fire exercise in Jordan on August 27, 2019, in support of Eager Lion. Eager Lion, U.S. Central Command’s largest and most complex exercise, is an opportunity to integrate forces in a multilateral environment, operate in realistic terrain and strengthen military-to-military relationships. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Liane Hatch)


Javelin anti-tank missile firing. Image Credit: US Army.

Don’t Give Too Many Away

Of course, the U.S. military doesn’t want to give so many Javelins to the Ukrainians that it empties the stores for the Americans. The Troy, Alabama, facility will likely run another shift to plus up and backfill the numbers for U.S. forces. Other than these concerns, the Javelin program has created a monster hit. 

The Javelins have generated such a tactical advantage that the Russians may rethink the original tank-dominated maneuver warfare battle plan. They entered the war with more tanks than the Ukrainians, but Russian armor has been significantly depleted. Thus, Javelin has been transformational on the battlefield, which will keep giving Russian generals headaches.

Now serving as 1945’s 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. 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.