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We Think We Know Why Russia Hates the Javelin and NLAW ‘Tank Killers’

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NLAW missile firing. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

President Joe Biden announced last week that he’ll be heading to the Heart of Dixie and will visit the Lockheed Martin plant in Alabama to see where the Javelin anti-tank missiles, and other weapons are being supplied to Ukraine, are produced. President Biden will head to Troy, Ala., on Tuesday and get an up-close view of the weapon that has given the Russians nightmares.

“Lockheed Martin is proud to support our customers and we welcome President Biden to our Troy facility,” the company said via a tweet on Wednesday.

Lockheed Martin, which is currently the world’s largest defense contractor, is the manufacturer of the FGM-148 Javelin weapon system, a man-portable anti-tank system. It first entered service in 1996, and has been continuously upgraded. It was used extensively by U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Meet the Javelin

The FGM-148 is a fire-and-forget platform that utilizes automatic infrared guidance that allows the user to take cover and avoid counter-fire immediately after launch. Its HEAT (High-Explosive Anti-Tank) warhead is capable of defeating modern tanks by striking them from above where the vehicle’s armor is the thinnest. It can also be used against fortifications in a direct attack fight.

The Javelin’s success at destroying Russian tanks has been credited to a number of factors, including that it has an effective range of about 1.5 miles. As it is a passive weapon, tank crews can’t actually detect a Javelin in the area until it’s fired. Because it produces very little backblast – especially compared to other anti-tank systems such as the BGM-71 TOW missile – Russian tanks often don’t know that a missile was fired their way.

The Javelin is also a fire-and-forget weapon – unlike the wire-guided TOW where operators must stay put until the missile strikes – which means those firing the Javelin can do the “shoot and scoot” maneuver, where they can fire the weapon and then take cover before Russian tanks can return fire.

In 2020, Lockheed Martin introduced the Javelin FGM-148F, which featured an advanced multipurpose warhead.

Russia Ukraine

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

“The MPWH incorporates the latest generation shaped charged technology to defeat present and future advanced armored threats while adding a fragmenting steel warhead case to significantly improve lethality against soft targets and light armored vehicles,” Lockheed Martin said.

American Stockpiles Diminished

Though the Javelin has proved instrumental for Ukraine in defending against Russia, it seems that U.S. supplies are beginning to run low.

“The United States military has probably sent about one-third of its Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine ­ one-third of our supply given to them,” Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut said during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Tuesday. “Replenishing U.S. stocks or those weapons would require 32 months.”

The committee had met to discuss the “health” of the U.S. defense industrial base and its capability to meet the needs of the nation’s services, Newsweek reported. A concern raised is whether the U.S. can continue to provide the Javelin to Ukraine – as the U.S. military could face a significant short of the key weapon, due to the fact that take years to replenish the stockpiles.

Full Force of the NLAW

Even if the United States is unable to continue to supply Ukraine with the Javelin, the besieged fighters are still being supplied with other anti-tank weapons. In fact, the Ukrainians have already received significant numbers – larger than the Javelin in fact – of the British-made NLAW.

Also known as the Main Battle Tank and Light Anti-Tank Weapon (MBT LAW), it is a single-shot, fire-and-forget, shoulder-fired disposable missile system that was designed for use by infantry. The shoulder-mounted weapon is capable of firing a single 150mm high-explosive anti-tank missile up to 2,600 feet. The joint British/Swedish-designed NLAWS, developed by Saab Bofors Dynamics, are currently built in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Thales Air Defence.

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Ukrainian marine with NLAW ATGM. Photo: Marine Command.

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

Ukraine

NLAW anti-tank weapon. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

The NLAW is a “soft-launch system,” which means that the missile is ejected non-explosively, and can be used by infantry from within an enclosed space. Weighing just 27.5 pounds, it is easy to fire, and light enough that the operator can still carry an additional weapon such as a rifle. Much like the American Javelin, the NLAW can target the top of a tank’s turret, where the armor is usually at its weakest. Operators need to aim just one meter above the tank and the downward shaped charge can do the rest.

The time from target detection to engagement is approximately five seconds. NLAW can be used in an attack from almost any position, from up high in a building to behind a tree or even in a ditch/trench. Operators can fire down 45 degrees and can shoot from inside a building, from a basement, or from the second floor of a building out of the range of most tanks. In direct attack mode, the NLAW can be used against soft targets including trucks, buses, and helicopters, but can also be fired into buildings, where it will cause significant damage.

While its guidance isn’t as sophisticated as the Javelin and it lacks the range, it has also earned the respect of Ukrainian fighters – and there have even been reports of some soldiers praising the UK’s Queen Elizabeth II while firing the NLAW.

Now a Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military hardware, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes.

Written By

Expert Biography: A Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,000 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.

12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Alex

    May 2, 2022 at 9:39 am

    I was recently in Russia. All the peoples of Russia laugh at such articles. Where are the tens of thousands of mothers of dead soldiers? Oh yes, Putin exiled them to Siberia 🙂

    Politico reported thousands of foreigners fighting on the side of Ukraine
    Combat-trained Americans, along with thousands of other foreigners, are participating in the military operations in Ukraine on the side of Kyiv. Such an assessment is given in an article published in the American edition of Politico. The publication refers to retired military and employees of American PMCs, who are currently on the territory of Ukraine.

    The material notes that in Ukraine, in particular, the Task Force Yankee group, headed by the American Harrison Yosefovitz, operates. He previously worked as a police officer in Chicago, Illinois, and also served in the US Army (ground forces).

    On April 29, CNN, citing the family of an American citizen and PMC mercenary Willie Joseph, reported his death in Ukraine. According to the mother of the mercenary, he went to Poland on March 12 and crossed the border into Ukraine on March 12-13. The woman noted that in the group of mercenaries, in which her son was, there were citizens of “a variety of countries.”

    The mercenaries come from the USA, Canada, Georgia, Great Britain, Poland and Romania.
    More than a thousand mercenaries have already been destroyed. About a thousand more refused to participate in hostilities and returned to their former extremist deployment sites.

    The remaining 4.8-5 thousand foreign mercenaries should return to their states, since, according to international law, they are deprived of legal protection and “at best” they will face long-term imprisonment. As we understand, most likely they will never return home. an easy walk to hunt people turned out to be a trap forever.

    Representatives of the military-civilian administration of Kherson raised the Russian flag on the building of the local executive committee in the Russian-controlled village of Chernobaevka, where the Kherson international airport is located.
    Russian security forces also removed Ukrainian signs from the building of the local administration.
    According to the residents of Chernobaevka, the former head of the village administration, Igor Dudar, fled to the territory controlled by Ukraine. During his reign, the Eternal Flame was extinguished at the monument to the fallen heroes of the Great Patriotic War, and photographs of veterans were taken from the village Board of Honor. Now, as assured in the military-civilian administration, all this will be corrected.

    Over the past day, from 8:00 am on May 1 to 8:00 am on May 2, 159 people, including 29 children, were evacuated from Mariupol to Bezymennoe, Novoazovsky District. Then people flee to Russia. Do you need more evidence of who is the aggressor and the killer, and to whom they run for help? Yes, propagandists and liars cannot change this.

    During the day, Russian air defense systems destroyed 10 Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicles in the areas of the settlements of Vesele, Borshchevo and Balakleya in the Kharkiv region, Kisylivka in the Kherson region, Mayak in the Zaporozhye region, Dokuchaev, Korsun and Khanzhinkovo ​​of the Donetsk People’s Republic, as well as in the area of ​​the city of Lugansk. Western drones turned out to be just targets for Russia and Donbass.

    High-precision air-launched missiles hit 38 Ukrainian military facilities in a day. Among them are four command posts, 30 strongholds, areas of concentration of manpower and Ukrainian military equipment, and three warehouses of missile and artillery weapons in the areas of Pervomayskoye and Ilyichevka settlements.

    The Osa AKM air defense system and a battery of multiple launch rocket systems in the Arkhangelovka area were also destroyed. Aviation of the Russian Aerospace Forces hit 27 strongholds, areas of concentration of manpower and military equipment of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, as well as a depot of rocket and artillery weapons and ammunition in the area of ​​​​the village of Chervonoe, Zaporozhye region. Up to 160 personnel and 26 units of Ukrainian armored vehicles were destroyed.

    During the day, the missile forces hit nine strongholds and areas of concentration of manpower and equipment, as well as the BM-21 Grad and an artillery battery in firing positions. Artillery subunits hit 26 command and control posts, 78 strongholds, 359 manpower and equipment concentration areas, and 67 artillery firing positions. Six ammunition depots, up to 280 personnel and 43 units of weapons and military equipment of the Armed Forces of Ukraine were destroyed.

    In total, since the beginning of the special military operation, Russia has destroyed 146 aircraft, 112 helicopters, 683 unmanned aerial vehicles, 281 anti-aircraft missile systems, 2,756 tanks and other armored combat vehicles, 316 multiple rocket launchers, 1,234 field artillery and mortar guns, as well as 2,563 units of special military vehicles. All this is confirmed and documented. Now tell us about 200,000 dead Russians and 5,000 destroyed Russian tanks, clowns.

    The Ukrainian authorities are seeking the evacuation of all those at the Azovstal plant in Mariupol to the territory controlled by Kyiv in order to hide the presence among the military countries.

    Among those at the plant there are a large number of characters who will confirm the presence of mercenaries, and perhaps acting officers of the Western armies on the side of the Ukrainian radicals.

    Does the elimination of the influence of a few dozen (even thousands) of Nazis deserve to put a country of forty million at risk? This is not a completely correct question. This is a question that concerns the fundamental security interests of the Russian Federation.

    We all remember the beginning of Nazism in Ukraine:
    persecution of the Russian Orthodox Church, the Russian language and the Russian media was carried out, sales of all printed materials in Russian were stopped, laws were adopted to promote Nazi theory and practice.

    The whole world understood that Ukraine is not worth starting a nuclear war, for which all the peoples of Russia are ready, but the peoples of the West are not ready. However, if crazy politicians want to try, it will be as President Putin said: “… we will all go to heaven, and you all will just die …”. Most importantly, the majority of Russians supported his words. Are you ready for war with Russia? Then go ahead and try it.

    • Him

      May 2, 2022 at 12:43 pm

      Alex, no matter your twaddle, history is that Russia was allied with Nazi Germany at the start of WW2. That means your Russia is the biggest Nazi collaborator in terms of size of country.

      You, Alex, are born of a nation of Nazi collaborators.

      That is why your mind is formed to think as a Nazi. Everyone can see that in you, except yourself, which is how it is when people cannot see their personal faults. Chance are, Alex, in your personal life, you are the type of person that refuses to admit that you are wrong – and you never once ask people to forgive you, because you never admit you did wrong.

      We feel sorry for you. But you, like all Russians, have a choice whether to believe the lies of your Russian TV propaganda.

  2. CK

    May 2, 2022 at 9:55 am

    You can smell the panic when the story changes day by day.

    Day 1: We will take Kiev in 3 days! (Alex put’s on clown shoes)

    Day 2: All Bandera-Nazis will be crushed! (Alex puts own striped clown trousers, with suspenders)

    Day 3: Retreat is all part of the master plan! The Moskva suffered a fire! We remain master strategists! (Alex puts on clown shirt, with a water squirtie flower in his pocket)

    Day 4: Don’t look at Ukraine! Look at Biden, Afghanistan, Iraq, BLM, MAGA, Trump, Hunter Biden, look at the birds, Elon Musk, anywhere but what we are doing in Ukraine! (Alex puts on his clown makeup)

    Day 5: Look at all these fake documentaries, all these fake independent reporters, these pseudo-histocal facts, all this nonsense! (Alex puts on his bright green clown wig)

    Day 6: Donbas Militia will crush everyone in East! Battle of encirclement is imminent! Victory shall be ours, we swear bro, plz believe bruh! (Alex puts on his clown gloves)

    Day 7: No! We are not losing, it’s just because now there are thousands of Americans and Irishmen and Scots and god knows who else fighting with the Americans! We’d totes be winning if it weren’t for those pesky kids! (Alex grabs his clown equipment)

    Day 8+: Alex is revealed for the clown he is.

    Every day a different story huh? No wonder you clowns can’t get shit done in Ukraine, you have no focus.

  3. Alex

    May 2, 2022 at 10:54 am

    I like your hysteria, Bandera Nazi. A beggar, vicious juvenile troll from the poorest country in Eurasia – Ukraine, who hid behind his mother’s skirt and does not fight with a machine gun in his hands, but squeals and hysteria here like a patient of the Lviv Regional Psychiatric Hospital. But we remember. what do you write from there. And here are two buts:
    1. Attributing other people’s words and fantasies to me will not work.
    2. All my data is easy to verify and is based on the state media of Western and Eastern countries, as well as independent journalists, whom you cannot accuse of lying, because they have an extremely high reputation in their field.
    Bottom line: which of us is a clown, you can see right away and it’s you. Tell your handlers you’re pathetic, unfit for the job, and you’re being paid 10 cents an hour for nothing.

  4. CK

    May 2, 2022 at 11:21 am

    You dare use my own spells against me, Potter?

    Look at you Alex, learning! Good way to recycle my insults at you, although you again water it down with playground retorts. “Hiding behind your mother’s skirts.”

    Really, Alex? Is that the best you can do? Gods man, how pathetic are you? Did the vodka kill the last two working brain cells inside that thick head of yours, or did your parents have to pay extra for you to be this stupid?

  5. mcswell

    May 2, 2022 at 3:07 pm

    Flash: Alex was Baghdad Bob’s speechwriter!

  6. Jacksonian Libertarian

    May 2, 2022 at 3:23 pm

    Manufacture of these missiles needs to be put on a war footing, and expanded to support the entire 1st world and its missions. Stockpiles of these weapons, and other smart weapons need to be increased many fold.

  7. Alex

    May 2, 2022 at 5:22 pm

    Canadian General Kadier was captured while trying to escape from Azovstal.

    In the dungeons of the Azovstal plant there are foreign generals, in particular, those who arrived from Canada, Britain and the USA.

    There is information that the general commanded the biological laboratory No. 1, in which 18 people worked. The laboratory worked with deadly viruses.

    Currently, Trevor Kadier has been taken to Moscow, where he is testifying. If the information about the capture of the Canadian general is confirmed, then Twitter users are offering to test new types of biological weapons on which he worked as a punishment.

    This mercenary was constantly in touch with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

    As we can see, any lies and propaganda fail sooner or later. How much this general and other foreigners who are sure to be captured will tell interesting things.

  8. CK

    May 2, 2022 at 6:38 pm

    Thanks Alex, I’ll believe it when I see it reported elsewhere besides a known troll on this website, a single, Kremlin-aligned Twitter account, and one lone Russian website, which you have parroted, word for word.

  9. CK

    May 3, 2022 at 7:44 am

    Ah yes, our prophet of blood and thunder returns. Here Alex, have a soapbox so you can more transparently proclaim your tidings.

    Alex: “[screaming] … and the bezan shall be huge and black, and the eyes thereof red with the blood of living creatures… [Bandera Nazis] and the whore of Babylon [Zelensky] shall ride forth on a three-headed serpent, and throughout the lands, there will be a great rubbing of parts. Yeeah…

    [yelling] … for the demon shall bear a nine-bladed sword. NINE-bladed! [NATO] Not two or five or seven, but NINE, which he will wield on all wretched sinners, sinners just like you, sir, [Alex] there, and the horns shall be on the head, with which he will…

    [Fumbles a few pages of his script]

    …there shall, in that time, be *rumors* of things going astray, errrm, and there shall be a great confusion as to where things really are, [Orcs in Kyiv? Kharkhiv? Azovstal?] and nobody will really know where lieth those little things wi – with the sort of raffia work base that has an attachment. [The tops of Russian tanks] At this time, a friend shall lose his friend’s hammer and the young shall not know where lieth the things possessed by their fathers that their fathers put there only just the night before, about eight o’clock. Yea, it is written in the book of Cyril that…

    No nonsens shall remain unuttered, no lie too grand for the peoples of the earth, and that blessed are the cheesemakers [Ukrainians] because surely, they will inherit the earth. Meanwhile, a donkey will don his mother’s skirt, where he shall fart out a smaller, faeces-kissed version of himself [Putin] who shall make of his believers, meat-bicycles, with which he may show them buckets, if only they bring him buckets, notwhistanding his faeces smelling mien.

    See, that’s the difference between you and the prophets of Monty Python. Their random gibberish is at least, entertaining. If only we could say the same of yours.

  10. Alex

    May 3, 2022 at 9:57 am

    William Scott Ritter, Jr. is an American military analyst. Intelligence officer in the United States Marine Corps. He served in this position for about 12 years. He became the Marine Rapid Deployment Force’s lead analyst on the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the Iran-Iraq War. United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq.
    During Desert Storm, he served as an adviser to General Norman Schwarzkopf on ballistic missiles. Ritter later worked as a security and military consultant for the Fox News network. According to an interview he gave to Democracy Now! in 2003, he also had a long official relationship with the British foreign intelligence agency MI6.
    If the Bandera Nazis start squealing that he was bought by Putin, then let them shove their squeal up their ass.
    Here are Scott Ritter’s words:

    “Do you want to name the best students of military science today? These are Russian officers! And we treat them like children – “these are Russians.” And they are the most educated and trained officers of all who can be found. They understand everything better than us. They didn’t spend 20 years kicking down doors and slaughtering families in Iraq or crawling up hills in Afghanistan to kill a shepherd, that’s what we did, and the Russians think big.

    We think in small arrows. We watch a video of how a Russian column is destroyed or three tanks are knocked out. War is hell, people die there, and if you look at the little arrows, you will think that the Russians are defeated. But look at the big arrows! The Russians kept the 100,000-strong group of Ukraine in Kyiv. If they are not threatened, they will move forward for reinforcements.

    Therefore, you (Russians) send 40 thousand soldiers from Belarus and hold the enemy in place. You have 80,000 enemy forces in Odessa, you send 30,000 soldiers from Crimea – their (Security Council of Ukraine) group is stuck. You have 100,000 enemies in the Donbass, and you, the Russian troops, cannot let them go to Kyiv. You send the militia of Donetsk and Lugansk to the front line. The most difficult situation! But you clung to the enemy and hold him, don’t let him move!

    You are conducting a through attack to break through the corridor to the Crimea. And Mariupol is a key city on the way, we had to take it. The only city for which the Russians fought. Why? Because he was the only one that mattered. The rest played no role.

    You will not take 3 million Kyiv with a force of 40 thousand. It doesn’t happen! You will not take 1.6 million Kharkiv with a force of 50 thousand. But you will take Mariupol. They had to take it. This was a strategic necessity.

    This whole phase was the preparation of the battlefield. The Russians have destroyed fuel storage facilities in Ukraine. What is a tank without fuel? Coffin! And the truck? Another coffin. Warehouses of ammunition and food are blown up. A soldier who is hungry and thirsty will be killed.

    The Russians have rearranged everything for themselves in order to prepare for a massive pincer attack that will fall into the forces of the Ukrainians, who will have no food, no water, no fuel, no ammunition. Here’s what the second phase will look like.

    The Russians have moved away from Kyiv, they no longer need to hold that grouping, it will not be able to move without fuel anyway. They’re stuck! If they leave the city, Russian aircraft will destroy them. There will be no reinforcements, the enemy in Donbas cannot move. They are trapped.

    The Russians have closed the ring and will destroy everyone. Or they will capture a huge part of the Ukrainian army. And when that happens, there will be nothing left. And the Russians will be able to demand whatever they want. That’s why I say the Russians will win. Because I see the situation. I do not flatter myself with the illusions that “the Russians could not take Kyiv and Odessa.” THEY DIDN’T TRY!”

  11. Alex

    May 4, 2022 at 8:09 am

    German journalist Thomas Röper: Ukrainians are very afraid that the Russians will leave.
    The journalist spoke about the distortion of facts in the Western media:

    “I was three times in the south (Ukraine). The first trip was also to Melitopol. And so, on this trip, I was most impressed by the fact, or the fear that you see there in the eyes of people. And not among those who do not agree with the military operation, and according to my estimates, this is a minority. It is they who swear, the camera writes, and they will say how much they disagree. And those who agree are the majority.

    I see it in the squares, when there are hundreds of people, they walk past the soldiers and say in a whisper: “Thank you guys, don’t leave.” They are very afraid, and they said it directly. They are very afraid that the Russians will leave and there will be reprisals. What, in my understanding, happened in Bucha, by the way.

    And the fact that now, Alina said, from Mariupol is another such example. The woman was afraid to just speak the truth. Afraid that, God forbid, the Russians would leave and there would be reprisals. I don’t want to take too much time now, I just want to give one example, because the West always says it’s Russian propaganda if they say that Azov and other units of the Ukrainian troops use civilians as a “human shield”.

    I write in German, and the other day I read an article in the German magazine Spiegel, which is probably known to many. And there was a very surprising offer. So they wrote… Everything, of course, sounded very positive, but they wrote that in Mariupol… More precisely, they (the newspaper) were told by people in Zaporozhye who had come from Mariupol, telling them that their national battalions held them, “politely of course”, held peaceful residents to the basement, and took positions in the apartments above these basements. It sounds in the Western media as if they are protecting them. Excuse me, what is this? If the fighters take up their combat positions above the basements where civilians are sitting, and how voluntarily they went to this basement.”

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