Man-Portable, Surface-to-Air Missile System
The Thales Javelin attempted to rectify the shortcomings of the earlier Blowpipe anti-aircraft weapon system.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited:
Since the advent of aircraft, warplanners have sought effective means of downing these threats through both air-based and ground-based means. Early-generation solutions centered on airborne interceptors and ground-based fire and these were eventually succeeded by missiles due largely to developments of the Cold War period (1947-1991). The "Javelin" was developed by the British concern of Thales Air Defence along these lines - existing as a short-ranged man-portable unit or dedicated airspace denial weapon system. Succeeding the "Blowpipe" weapon system, it was eventually taken into service by the forces of Botswana, Canada, Malaysia, Peru, South Korea, and the British Army and Marine services. It is known to have seen action in the Soviet-Afghan War (1979-1989), the Falklands War (1982) (achieving rather poor results), and the Persian Gulf War (1991).
Requiring a minimum crew of just one operator, the Javelin weighs in at 54lb for the system component and an additional 24lb for the missile - totaling nearly 80lb when made ready-to-fire. It has an overall length measuring 4.6 feet and the launch tube has a diameter of 76mm. The man-portable version of the Javelin can carry and fire just one missile while three missiles are used in the heavier, static configuration ("Javelin LML") for repeat-fire as well as enhanced downing capabilities against low-flying aircraft. The LML model can also be fitted to vehicles for mobility.
The missile carries a High-Explosive (HE) warhead weighing 6lb and detonation can occur through either impact force / direct contact or proximity fuze means. Propulsion is by way of a solid-fuel rocket motor, allowing the missile to reach speeds of Mach 1.7 when chasing down targets. Guidance is by way of a Semi-Automatic Command Line-of-Sight (SACLOS) arrangement via radio frequency - the operator sights the weapon through a T.V. camera / magnification (6x) optics set. Accuracy is dampened somewhat when attempting to target enemies behind smoke.
In British military service, the Javelin has been superseded (on paper) by the "Starburst" system. This, in turn, has been taken over by the "Starstreak" system.