FGM-148 Javelin: The Most Advanced Anti-Tank Guided Missile

This next generation of man-portable anti-tank system (MANPATS).
2-198 AR Conducts Javelin Training in Qatar

The Javelin is an advanced shoulder-fired anti-tank missile weapons globally. It destroys any army’s main tank, and it can even target bunkers, helicopters, vehicles, and more.  

Since its launch, it has been a weapon for attacking tanks with its fire and forget system, which makes it easy to operate and is capable to hit targets from above where their armor is lighter.

The FGM-148 Javelin

FGM 148 Javelin
FGM-148 Javelin by U.S. Army Alaska (USARAK). Licensed under CC by 2.0

The Javelin is a mobile, short-range, shoulder-launched anti-tank weapon created by Raytheon and Lockheed Martin. It is serving the US Forces. It has been tried in several wars such as the War in Afghanistan, the Syrian Civil War, the Libyan Civil War, and the Russian Invasion of Ukraine with amazing results.


The Javelin automatically flies to the target’s location after the launch, operating an IR seeker sensor for guidance to its targets with incredible accuracy. 

Lockheed Martin and Raytheon have built over 45,000 Javelin ATG missiles along with 12,000 command-controlled launch units. 

This versatile multi-purpose weapon costs around $126,000, comparable to the cost of a fully-loaded Tesla Model S.


Two types of attack modes

Javelin Fire
Javelin Fire by The U.S. Army. Licensed under CC by 2.0.

Javelin has 2 attack modes: Direct attack and top attack. 

  • Direct attack: 

The High Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT) missile hits the target during the direct attack mode. This mechanism is valuable for destroying bunkers, buildings, and troop units. The direct mode can also shoot down helicopters flying at lower heights.

  • Top attack:  

The top-attack mode of ATGW is operated to destroy tanks and various sorts of armored vehicles. 


The missile hikes upward after its launch and then leaps towards its target. It climbs above the enemy’s target for improved clarity and then hits the spot where the armor is weakest.

The fire and forget technology

anti tank guided missile 63033 1280
Anti-Tank Guided Missile by pixabay.com

The introduction of “Fire-and Forget” helps the weapon to be effective. The Javelin’s command launch unit (CLU) enables the gunner to identify the target, and this state-of-the-art technology allows the Javelin to hit its target while the operator can run for cover.


The U.S. Army
The U.S. Army by Javelin Fire. Licensed under CC by 2.0.

  • Weigh: 22.3 kg (49 lb)
  • Length Missile: 1.1 meters (43 inches)
  • Launch tube: 1.2 meters (47 inches)
  • Effective firing range: 2,500 meters (1.6 miles)
  • Peak altitude: 150 meters (490 feet)
  • Crew: 2

Javelin’s competitors

Javelin 4th Marines
Javelin 4th Marines by Mestillomo. Licensed under CC by 4.0.

The Javelin has encouraged comparable weapons like the Chinese anti-tank missile “HJ-12,” which is fundamentally a Javelin’s copy. 


This missile has the same capacities and specifications as the US “Javelin Anti-Tank Missile.” There are a plethora of identical Chinese innovative ATGMs, akin to Javelin, which is being exported.

Javelin at war

fire a Javelin Anti Tank Missile system
fire a Javelin Anti-Tank Missile system by The U.S. Army. Licensed under CC by 2.0 

It has a huge impact on varied targets at long ranges during the day and night maneuvers and under several countermeasure settings and adverse weather situations.

For instance, in the Battle of Debecka Pass, in Iraq, American soldiers eliminated a couple of T-55 tanks, 4 trucks, and 8 armored personnel vehicles.


Now, it’s being employed in Ukraine to counter Russian tanks during the Ukraine invasion with success, and unverified reports state that in the first days of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it has annihilated 280 Russian armored and light armored vehicles, out of 300 Javelin missiles fired.

It evens the odds

Javelins are definitely one of the best weapons made in the last decades to counter the menace of tanks and other lightly armored vehicles.

With the Javelin, the powers of two armies are more evenly matched as only 2 soldiers can take down a whole tank in a matter of seconds.


For this reason, the Javelin will continue to be operated on a massive scale on modern battlefields as long as the armored vehicles are easily beaten with missiles that are inexpensive compared to the equipment they destroy.

Feature image credit: 2-198 AR Conducts Javelin Training in Qatar by The Army. Licensed under CC by 2.0.