Armor: Javelin Of Arabia

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December 5, 2010: Saudi Arabia has ordered 150 American Javelin anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM), and twenty launchers. This package, which includes training and technical assistance, will cost $71 million. The Javelin, introduced in 2002, weighs 22.3 kg (49 pounds, with disposable launch tube and battery/seeker coolant unit) and is fired from a 6.4 kg (14 pound) CLU (command launch unit). The CLU contains a 4x day sight and a 9x heat sensing night sight. The missile has a tandem (two shaped charge explosives, to blast through reactive armor) warhead that can hit a target straight on, or from the top. This latter capability enables the Javelin to destroy any existing tank (including the U.S. M-1) with its 8.2 kg (18 pound) warhead. Maximum range is 2500 meters. Best of all, the seeker on the missile is "fire and forget." That is, once the operator gets the target in the CLU crosshairs and fires the missile, the computer and seeker in the missile warhead memorizes the target and homes in on it. The infantry love this, because it allows them to take cover once the missile is fired.

Since ATGMs first saw action three decades ago, operators quickly discovered that in the time it took (up to 15 seconds) for the missile to reach its target, enemy troops would often shower them with machine-gun fire, and the most recent ATGM designs seek to deal with that with features like "fire and forget." Another Javelin feature is "soft launch", where the missile is popped out of the launch tube by a small explosive charge, small enough to allow the Javelin to be fired from inside a building. Once the missile is about eight meters out, the main rocket motor ignites. The minimum range is, however, is 75 meters. It takes about 20 seconds to reload a CLU after a missile has been fired. Indian troops got a chance to fire Javelins last year, and were very impressed. Not just because its ease of use and accuracy, but because the missile is combat proven and is known to be very effective at non-vehicle targets. The CLU also performs well as a night vision device, which is how many American troops use it in Iraq and Afghanistan.

 


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