Javelin Antitank Weapon System
by Tim Davis

From the end of WWII through the early 1990's, the US and Soviet Union had a long history of battling each other with technology. US military planners knew that to be successful against the vast Soviet Armored Divisions, infantrymen needed an effective antitank weapon. As soon as the US developed a round or missile to defeat Soviet armor, the Soviets rallied with a new armor design. This was the scenario in the late 1980's when Soviet advances in armor threatened to make Medium Antitank Weapons such as the M47 Dragon obsolete.

The Dragon was an effective weapon, but it had some drawbacks. For one, it was extremely difficult to control after initially firing. And secondly, it was wire-guided which meant you had to sit in your position and hopefully hit the target before it hit you. In 1989, the Army awarded a contract for the development of the Javelin. They wanted something that could engage targets at a greater distance than the Dragon, defeat newer Soviet armor, and provide better survivability for the gunner. With this in mind, defense contractors went to work.

At 2500 meters, the Javelin has an effective range of more than twice its predecessor. The Command Launch Unit (CLU) is the brains of the system. It houses the day and night sights, controls and indicators. The CLU may also be used as a stand alone surveillance system for viewing opposing forces or damage assessment. To fire, the gunner views the scene in his eyepiece, places the cursor box over the target, and sends a lock-on command to the missile. The missile then automatically guides itself to the target. This fire-and-forget technology allows the gunner to immediately leave the area, if necessary. The warhead is made up of dual shaped-charges which combine to slice through any known armor. Secondary targets include ground fighting positions and helicopters The Javelin has two attack modes, direct or top. In the top attack mode, the missile flies above the target and attacks from the top down, penetrating thinner armor.

The Javelin is light and lethal-just the way Rangers like it. In June 1996, the first shipment was delivered to the 3rd Ranger Battalion at Ft. Benning, followed later by the 1st and 2nd Ranger Battalions.

Javelin Army Ranger Weapon


Primary Function Antitank Weapon
Manufacturer Raytheon/Lockheed Martin
47.2 in
42.6 in
System Weight

· Launch Tube
· Command Launch Unit
· Round
49.2 lbs
9 lbs
14.1 lbs
26.1 lbs
4x & 9x
Range 2500 m
Guidance Lock-on before launch;
automatic self-guiding.
Warhead Tandem shaped charge