Javelin FGM-148 Anti-Tank Weapon


As you can see in this photo, the Javelin missile itself is launched safely away from the shooter before its rocket motor is allowed to ignite – Click for larger image

Javelin is an American man-portable anti-tank guided missile. It is a “fire and forget” system which utilises a top-attack flight profile against armored vehicles and also has a direct-attack mode for use against buildings or fortifications. The system has a soft launch arrangement which ejects the missile from the tube to a safe distance before igniting the main rocket motor. This reduces the firing signature and allows use from within buildings.

Javelin should not be confused with the British Javelin surface-to-air missile.

Javelin is the medium anti-tank system for infantry, scouts and combat engineers. These forces must have the capability to defeat armored forces during the day, at night, and during limited visibility conditions. The Javelin is operated by an individual soldier or in crews of two or three. The Javelin can be delivered by individual paratrooper, door bundle, tracked/wheeled vehicles, rail, ship, or air.

This system has a high kill rate against all known armor threats at extended ranges under day/night, adverse weather and multiple counter-measure conditions. The system’s soft launch permits firing from a fighting position or an enclosure.

Javelin uses a modular design to allow the system to evolve to meet changing threats and requirements via both software and hardware upgrades. The system consists of a reusable Command Launch Unit (CLU) with a built-in-test (BIT), and a modular missile encased in a launch tube assembly (LTA). The system also includes training devices for tactical training, classroom training, and handling exercises.

Javelin’s fire-and-forget technology allows the gunner to fire and immediately take cover, to move to another fighting position, or to reload. The Javelin provides enhanced lethality over the M47 Dragon through the use of a tandem warhead which will defeat all known armor threats. It is effective against both stationary and moving targets. The Javelin is capable of operating over 2.5 times the range of the M47 Dragon with a day/night integrated sight, capable of target acquisition in adverse weather and through battlefield obscurant conditions.

This system has a secondary mission of destroying bunkers and provides defensive capability against attacking/hovering helicopters. The CLU also has been used in a stand-alone mode for battlefield surveillance and target selection in recent conflicts.

The Javelin is a direct replacement for the M47 Dragon.


  • The maximum effective range of the Javelin is 2,000 meters.
  • The Javelin has a fire and forget capability. The missile imaging infrared (I²R) system gives the missile the ability to guide itself to the target when launched by the gunner.
  • The Javelin has two missile flight paths:
    • Top attack fight path is designed to impact on the top of the target.
    • Direct attack flight path is designed to impact on the side (front, rear, flank) of the target.
  • The Javelin gunner is capable of firing up to three missiles within 2 minutes.
  • The dual-shaped charge warhead is capable of defeating any known enemy armor.
  • The night vision sight (NVS) sees little degradation of the target image.
  • Countermeasures used by the enemy is countered by the NVS filter.
  • The Javelin is man-portable.
  • The Javelin is maneuverable over short distances for the gunners.
  • The fire and forget capability allows the gunner to shoot and move before missile impact.
  • The soft launch capability of the Javelin allows it to be fired from inside buildings and bunkers.
  • The passive infrared targeting system used to acquire lock-on cannot be detected.
  • The launch motor produces a small signature. Because of the Javelin’s low backblast, it can be fired from smaller, harder to locate, better protected positions that give the gunner a greater chance of remaining undetected or, if detected, surviving any suppressive fires.
  • The fire and forget feature allows the gunner to take cover immediately after the missile is launched.


  • The CLU sight cannot discriminate targets past 2,000 meters.
  • The NVS cool down time is from 2.5 to 3.5 minutes.
  • The seeker’s cool-down time is about 10 seconds.
  • The BCU life, once activated, is about 4 minutes.
  • During limited visibility (natural or man-made), rain, snow, sleet, fog, haze, smoke, dust, and night are collectively referred to as limited visibility conditions. The day FOV can be rendered useless during these conditions.
  • Night:
    • The day FOV relies on daylight to provide the gunner a suitable target image.
    • The NVS uses the infrared naturally emitted from objects. Infrared crossover is the time at dawn and dusk that the terrain and the target are close enough in temperature to cause the target to blend in with its surroundings. If there is little difference in the amount of infrared energy between a target and its background, then neither the Javelin CLU nor the missile seeker can see the target well, thus greatly degrading the performance of the Javelin. This situation may last as long as an hour, until either the background or the target changes temperature enough to become detectable.
    • Natural clutter is when the sun heats objects to a close enough temperature that it causes the target to blend in with the surrounding terrain.
    • Artificial clutter occurs when there are man-made objects that emit large amounts of infrared (for example, burning vehicles).
    • Heavy fog reduces the capability of the gunner to detect and engage targets.
  • The flight path of the missile is restricted in wooded, mountainous, and urban terrain.
  • The gunner must have line of sight for the seeker to lock onto a target.
  • The weight of the Javelin makes maneuvering slow over long distances. When employing the Javelin in the dismounted role, the soldier’s load becomes important. With a total system weight of just under 50 pounds, the Javelin is heavy. Although a man-portable weapon, one soldier cannot easily carry the Javelin cross-country for extended periods.
  • The Javelin round is bulky and restricts movement in heavily wooded or vegetative terrain.
  • The gunner must partially expose himself to engage the enemy.
  • The CLU requires a line-of-sight to acquire targets.

Urban Combat:

  • The Javelin is primarily used to defeat main battle tanks and other armored combat vehicles. It has a moderate capability against bunkers, buildings, and other fortified targets commonly found during combat in built-up areas.
  • The minimum engagement distance limits firing opportunities in the confines of densely built-up areas, and the Javelin may not be the weapon of choice in the urban environment where there are additional considerations including: fires (caused by both friendly and enemy) may cause target acquisition and lock-on problems; clutter on the battlefield may cause lock-on problems; and, line-of-sight communications may be limited by the structures.
  • The Javelin’s unique flight path forces the gunner to think in three dimensions. The urban environment has overhead obstacles such as street signs, light poles, and wires, which could impede the missile’s flight path. In the top-attack mode, the Javelin missile requires up to 160-plus meters of overhead clearance. In the direct-attack mode, the Javelin requires up to 60-plus meters of overhead clearance.
  • The Javelin missile has a minimum engagement distance (150 meters in the attack mode and 65 meters in the direct attack mode), which limits its use in built-up areas. Few areas in the inner city permit the gunner to fire much beyond the minimum arming distance. The gunner is usually limited to firing down streets, rail lines, parks, or plazas. The Javelin can effectively fire from upper level stories or roofs of buildings into other buildings.
  • When a gunner comes across a target of opportunity, he may not be able to take advantage of it. The cool down time of the NVS is 2.5 to 3.5 minutes. Seeker cool down takes about 10 seconds. Once the BCU is activated, the gunner has a maximum of 4 minutes to engage the target before the BCU is spent. Vehicles crossing the street or moving between buildings (flank shot) are exposed for about 10 to 15 seconds, meaning the gunner may not have enough time to lock-on to the target and fire.
  • The soft launch capability enables the gunner to fire from inside buildings because there is little overpressure or flying debris.
  • The dual charge warhead penetrates typical urban targets. Penetration, however, does not mean a concurrent destruction of the structural integrity of a position. The direct attack mode is selected when engaging targets in a building. Enemy positions or bunkers in the open closer than 150 meters are engaged using the direct attack mode. Positions in the open farther than 150 meters are engaged using either the top or direct attack mode depending on the situation.
  • The Javelin is not effective when breaching structural walls. The anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) are not designed to breach structural walls effectively. All ATGMs, to include the Javelin, are designed to produce a small hole, penetrate armor, and deliver the explosive charge. Breaching calls for the creation of a large hole. Firing ATGMs is the least efficient means to defeat structural walls. ATGMs are better used against armored vehicles or for the destruction of enemy-fortified fighting positions.
  • The Javelin should be in the direct-fire mode when engaging helicopters. The rotors of the helicopter may interfere with the sensors of the missile in the top-attack mode and result in erratic flight of the missile and a target miss.


Javelin is used by these countries:

  • Australia
  • Canada (In the process of testing prior to deciding to purchace the system)
  • Czech Republic
  • Jordan
  • Lithuania
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Republic of Ireland
  • Taiwan
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

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