Javelin is a portable Anti-Tank Guided Weapon (ATGW) described by the British Army thus;
Javelin ATGW is in service with the British Army, Royal Marines and RAF Regiment.
Javelin Anti-Tank Guided Weapon (ATGW) History
Javelin is a direct replacement for the Milan Anti-Tank Guided Weapon and a de-facto replacement for Swingfire, a vehicle launched anti-tank guided weapon.
After the cancellation of the Orange William missile in 1959, Fairey had continued development work on wire guided anti-tank missiles that would result in Swingfire. Introduced in 1969, Swingfire was a brute of a missile. The warhead weighed in at 7kg alone and it had a couple of unique features that set it apart from its rivals.
Upon launch, the missile could immediately switch direction by 90 degrees by using a ‘jetivator’ which controlled the direction of the rocket motor exhaust, and a remote sighting assembly which allowed the launching vehicle to adopt a hull down, or concealed, firing position. The remote sight could be located up to 30 metres away horizontally and 15 metres higher or lower.
Swingfire was carried by two armoured vehicles, CVR(T) Striker and the FV432. The concept for Striker was to provide a long range anti-tank overwatch for CVR(T) reconnaissance vehicles operating forward of the main armoured force. Striker could carry five missiles in ready to launch boxes with an additional five stowed in the hull. With the missile launcher in the stowed position, Striker looked like just any other armoured personnel carrier, not the lethal anti-tank machine that it was. In true research establishment fashion, the boffins reportedly determined that the kill probability of each Swingfire was 40%. Thus, it would take precisely two and a half missiles to kill each enemy tank. They also calculated that a vehicle engaging enemy tanks with ATGW (Anti-Tank Guided Weaponry) would only kill two before itself being destroyed. Therefore, five missiles were all that were needed!
The FV438 was similar to the CVR(T) Striker, armed with Swingfire missiles, although employed differently. A variant of Spartan was also proposed with the TOW Missile and Swingfire was also mounted (or proposed) on a variety of other vehicles.
The MoD awarded a £35m five year contract to British Aerospace to upgrade the Swingfire wire-guided anti-tank missile system in 1990. It was called the Swingfire Improved Guidance (SWIG) programme. SWIG would replace all the analogue electronics with the latest generation digital systems. Most notably, it would change the guidance from command to automatic command, i.e. the operator now only needed to keep the crosshairs on the target and not manually fly the missile.
Swingfire saw action in 1991 and 2003, after each, the operational analysis was fulsome in its praise, this, for example, from 2003;
FRES Recce Block 3 did include an overwatch variant but this was removed, and likewise, the earlier TRACER also included a Brimstone armed overwatch variant, before it was cancelled in favour of FRES.
Swingfire and Striker were withdrawn in 2005.
In 1972, Daimler-Benz Aerospace (DASA) and Aerospatiale SA formed a joint venture called Euromissile, now part of MBDA, to develop a man portable anti-tank guided weapon and heavier vehicle/helicopter mounted weapon. These two were MILAN (Missile d´infanterie léger antichar) and HOT (Haut subsonique Optiquement Téléguidé Tiré d’un Tube)
MILAN was entered service relatively quickly and soon went on to achieve significant export success, including with the UK and 40 other countries. MILAN uses a Semi-Automatic Command Line of Sight (SACLOS) guidance system with a thin wire used to transmit guidance information from the firing post to the missile.
In British service it saw extensive use in Falklands, from Major John Crossland, OC B Company 2 PARA;
Milan 2 came into service in 1984, the two are easily distinguished by Milan 2 having a distinctive stand off probe.
The FV120 Spartan Milan Compact Turret (MCT) variant was introduced in 1986 although the Milan missile’s maximum range of 2,000 metres was a significant step down from Swingfire at 4,000 metres.
In response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990 a coalition was formed that would see 35,000 British personnel deployed as part of Operation GRANBY. 4th Armoured Brigade, 7th Armoured Brigade and HQ 1st (UK) Armoured Division, and 5,000 vehicles, were all shipped to Saudi Arabia in time for the 1991 kick off. A number of Warriors were modified with a turret-mounted Milan firing post. Although it could not be used on the move it did provide much greater mobility for Milan than the FV432s would have.
Milan was also used in 2003 in Iraq and, until Javelin came into service, Afghanistan.
Milan ER is still available from MBDA
TRIGAT began in 1983 with the agreement of France, Germany and the UK to establish the Euromissile Dynamics Group to develop a number of anti-tank guided weapons.
In 1988, the UK, France and Germany signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to cooperate on the joint development of an anti-tank missile family (medium and long range) that would replace Milan, HOT and Swingfire; Euromissile was intended to be the industrial vehicle.
The missiles were to be called TRIGAT- MR and TRIGAT-LR and both would utilise a tandem shaped charge warhead and either a laser beam riding or IR homing guidance. The original intent for the MR variant was that it could use Milan firing posts and sighting systems. The LR variant was intended to have a range in excess of 5,000m and employ a terminal dive attack profile to target thinner top armour of armoured vehicles.
Development contracts followed and the missile progressed through early stage firings.
TRIGAT MR used a laser beam guidance system, like Javelin S15, the operator simply placed the beam onto the target and the missile acquired it and followed it in. A thermal imaging system provided day/night capability and the missile itself, had a maximum range of 2,400m. The missile was designed to have a high level of agility for use against fleeting and crossing targets, and with a soft launch system, easy to use in confined spaces.
TRIGAT-LR was closely tied to the development of the Eurocopter Tiger attack helicopter but as the UK eventually selected AH-64 in preference to Tiger and A.129 Mangusta, the choice of Hellfire instead of TRIGAT-LR was already made.
The UK signed an MoU for production in 1999 with expectation of a contact to follow that ensured no gaps would exist between TRIGAT-MR coming into service and Milan going out of service in 2005. Unfortunately, delays in signing from Belgium and the Netherlands and, as usual, Germany revising down their required quantities, meant the delays would potentially leave the UK with a capability gap.
The 1999 National Audit Office Major Projects Report described TRIGAT as;
Cost to the MoD at this stage was forecast to be £122 million.
The following years report from the NAO told a different story;
And that was the end of TRIGAT-MR
£105 million cost for no weapons, it was less than the estimate though.
This did result in a bit of a problem, the Milan systems would be life expired by 2005.
With TRIGAT-MR cancelled, the UK needed a Milan replacement, and it needed one fast. A development project was not possible but a competition was.
The replacement for Milan was called the Light Forces Anti-Tank Guided Weapon System (LFATGWS).
In September 2001, the Defence Procurement Agency awarded one year Assessment Phase contracts to Raytheon/Lockheed Martin and Matra BAE Dynamics.
Defence Procurement Minister Lord Bach said:
Raytheon/Lockheed Martin entered their Javelin system and Matra BAE Dynamics, the Rafael Spike-MR (GILL), shown below.
Despite the trials being hampered by the UK Foot and Mouth outbreak and 9/11 attacks in January 2003, the winner was announced;
A small number of modifications were made before the standard Javelin entered service with the UK. A tripod was added to provide an option for a more stable firing platform, especially for extended surveillance using the extremely capable sighting system. And that was the second major improvement, the sighting system was improved from the basic system
Javelin entered service with 16 Air Assault Brigade and 3 Commando Brigade in July 2005, four months ahead of schedule.
The initial order was primarily for 16 Air Assault Brigade and 3 Commando Brigade but in 2004, an additional £100 million order was placed for Javelin systems to equip Armoured Infantry (AI) and Formation Reconnaissance (FR) forces. It was at this point that the initial intent to study a longer range weapon to replace the now out of service Swingfire.
Dismounted Javelin teams would have to do.
Lord Bach, again;
Another order for Javelin was placed in 2009 for an additional 1,300 missiles.
Javelin saw extensive use in Afghanistan.
In 2016, Raytheon announced a successful series of test firings in the vehicle launched role;
Kongsberg, the supplier of the remote weapon system used in the test also confirmed a number of additional details;
The most interesting of these was the 4.3km outer range of the trial.
Javelin Anti-Tank Guided Weapon (ATGW) Capabilities
Javelin is a fire and forget man portable anti-tank guided weapon comprising two main components, the missile itself and the Command Launch Unit (CLU)
With a stated range of 2.5km the missile weighs 11.8kg and is armed with a tandem shaped charge warhead. The tandem warhead has two charges; the precursor initiates explosive reactive armour and then the main warhead is initiated to penetrate armour underneath.
The missile is equipped with a lock on before launch and automated self-guidance system that uses an imagine infra-red sensor based on a 12um cadmium mercury telluride (CdHgTe) 64 x 64 pixel focal plane array.
Javelin uses a soft launch system to reduce launch signature and enable firing from confined spaces. The small launch motor ejects the missile clear of the tube and when at a safe distance, ignites the propulsion motor.
A selectable flight profile allows the missile to engage directly or in a top attack mode.
The missile is contained in a sealed Launch Tube Container which is discarded when fired.
Javelin has been tested to 4,750m and fired from a variety of weapon mounts and platforms. Developments have also included a multi purpose warhead that is better suited to attacking non armoured vehicle targets, as was common in Afghanistan.
Command Launch Unit (CLU)
The clip on Command Launch Unit (CLU) weighs 6.4kg and provides the passive target acquisition, fire control unit and integrated day and thermal imaging sight.
UK javelin uses a DRS Technologies 2nd gen thermal imaging sight with x 4 and x 9 magnification optics. Target information is passed to the missile and whilst the gunner can observe and control the missile during flight, the missile is ‘fire and forget’ if needed.
A tripod assembly is also available for UK Javelin CLU’s and in many cases, the CLU is used as a standalone observation system.
The US has developed a lightweight CLU that is 70% smaller, 40% lighter and with a 50% increase in battery life. It also has a range of other improvements, GPS and network connectivity for example.
Remote Weapon System
Although not integral to the currently in service Javelin missiles it is worth noting that Javelin has been successfully integrated with the Kongsberg Protector RWS as part of ongoing UK trials and development work.