Armor: October 16, 2003

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The new American Javelin anti-tank missile, which performed so well in Iraq, has claimed another victim. The U.S. Marine Corps, which successfully used Javelin, had decided to ditch it's Predator Short Range missile (or SRAW, for Short Range Assault Weapon). This weapon never entered wide use in the marines, although they have about 730 on hand. The SRAW is a lightweight (21 pounds for launcher and missile), short range (600 meters) missile that detonates its warhead when flying over its target, and penetrates the thinner top armor. The missile is "fire and forget", with laser and magnetic sensors in the warhead to detect when the missile is over the target vehicle. Development began in 1987, and because of the end of the Cold War, proceeded in fits and starts over the next 16 years. The marines hope to use up the ones they still have. But this will be difficult because of the top attack warhead. While this type of warhead allows a small warhead to take out just about any tank, it is much less useful for hitting bunkers or buildings. It was because of the top attack warhead that the U.S. Army rejected the SRAW, even though a more conventional warhead was also offered. While the Javelin is more than twice as expensive as SRAW, it has longer range (2,500 meters), a warhead that takes out bunkers as well as tanks, and a missile itself that is only six pounds heavier than the SRAW (20 pounds versus 14.) It's also likely that the 600 meter range struck the marines as being too short. With armored vehicles, you want to take them out as far away as possible, While 600 meters is quite a distance, it's not really if the armored vehicle in question is shooting at you. Most of the Javelins used in Iraq hit targets that were more than 600 meters away.

 


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