A lightweight, shoulder-fired surface-to-surface missile (SSM) principally, but not exclusively, intended as an anti-tank missile, the U.S. FGM-148 Javelin contains significant advantages over earlier shoulder-fired (e.g., the AT-4 unguided rocket) or at least portable antitank weapons (e.g, M-47 Dragon). While intended principally for surface targets, it has some surface-to-air missile (SAM) capability against slow targets such as helicopters.
From the firer's first concerns, there are two major advantages:
- cold launch, in which the rocket motor does not fire until well clear of the launcher, so there is no dangerous rocket backblast; Javelin can be fired safely from a closed room. "soft launch" also does not reveal the position of the firer.
- fire-and-forget, as opposed to the unguided AT-4 and the Dragon, which had to be controlled manually from launch to impact. The gunner locks the sight on the target prior to launch, commits the sight picture to the missile's memory, and fires.
It has a 2,500 meter range, approximately twice that of the Dragon. Its default anti-tank mode is top-attack, in which, as it nears the target, it "pops up" and dives to hit a tank where the armor is usually thinnest. An innovation, however, is a direct fire mode, where it flies straight at the target, which is preferable for targets such as targets with top cover, or the sides of buildings and bunkers.
Total system weight, of a Command Launch Unit (CLU) and an attached missile, is 22.3 kg; additional missiles weigh 11.8 KG. The missile is 126mm in diameter and 1.08 meters long.
It was used successfully in the Iraq War, by U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps and Australian Special Forces. The separate Javelin system saw operational service with the US Army and Marine Corps and Australian Special Forces during Operation Iraqi Freedom in March/April 2003. More than 1,000 rounds have been fired.
It will replace the Euromissile Milan in U.K. service, beginning deployment in 2005. Other countries to use it include Australia, Canada, Bahrain, the Czech Republic, Ireland, Jordan, Lithuania, Oman, New Zealand , Norway, Taiwan, and the United Arab Emirates.
Disposable missile package
The Javelin missile and the (Alliant Techsystems) Launch Tube Assembly form a disposable component. Missile range is 2.5 KM.
The 6.4 KG CLU, Raytheon's product, contains the missile guidance electronics and which can be attached to a disposable Lockheed-Martin missile. The CLU, with a thermal viewer operating in the 8000-12000 nanometer far infrared range.
CLUs are routinely used as free-standing thermal viewers. It has a x4 day sight, and x4 and x9 night sight magnifications.