The US has delivered the Javelin anti-tank missile system to Ukraine, a State Department official confirmed to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty on Monday.
“They have already been delivered,” the official told RFE/RL.
The Trump administration announced in December that it had approved a $US47 million deal for 210 Javelin anti-tank missiles and 37 Javelin launchers. But the State Department official didn’t disclose to RFE/RL when and how many launchers and missiles arrived, or if Ukrainian troops have begun training on them.
The deal was intended to deter Russia, which has opposed the sale since its inception, despite denying any real involvement in the conflict. Former President Barack Obama, as well as France and Germany, opposed arming Ukraine out of concern that it may inflame the conflict.
Trump’s national security advisers eventually convinced him to sign off on the deal, but the president also told them to not publicly talk about the deal, fearing that it might agitate Russian President Vladimir Putin, NBC News previously reported.
“[Trump] doesn’t want us to bring it up,” a White House official told NBC News in March. “It is not something he wants to talk about.”
Here’s what the Javelin can do:
Developed by Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, the FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank missile system first entered US service in 1996.
Raytheon and Lockheed Martin are two of the largest defence contractors and political donors in the US.
It’s a portable, shoulder-mounted missile system that’s about four feet long and weighs about 33 pounds.
The reusable Command Launch Unit fires a high explosive anti-tank, infrared guided missile up to about 8,200 feet.
It also has fire-and-forget technology, meaning the operator can pull the trigger and then take cover, not having to make adjustments to the missile flight after firing.
The operator uses the launcher’s sights to lock onto targets, and can even use it by itself to surveil battlefields.
The missile has two attack modes: direct attack and top attack.
Top attack is for tanks, with the missile coming down on top of the tank where there is little armour. Direct attack is for other targets, such as helicopters and bunkers.
The missile also has two different charges, one to set off a tank’s reactive armour, then a second to penetrate the base armour.
The system can be deployed in 30 seconds, and reloaded in 20 seconds.
Although the Javelin will give Ukrainian troops a sense of extra security, it’s unclear how it will tactically help on the battlefield.
Although it’s routinely violated, the Minsk Agreement, which was signed by both Kyiv and Russian-backed separatists in late 2014, forbids each side from deploying heavy weaponry, including tanks, within nine miles of the front lines. This term, however, doesn’t appear to be violated very often.
But reports have shown that Russian-backed separatists have Russian T-34, T-64, variants of T-72B, and even T-90 tanks.
Javelins can destroy T-34s and T-62s, but it’s unclear if they can take out T-72B3Ms and T-90s, which are fitted with Relikt armour.
Relikt armour consists of an explosive layer of armour on top of another layer. They also have grenade and flare decoys that can divert missiles.
Javelins have never been tested against Relikt armour.
Source: The National Interest
You can see the Javelin in action below: