CONTENT PREVIEW
Infantry Weapons

Javelin ATGMs approved for Ukraine

05 January 2018

Key Points

  • The provision of US Javelin anti-tank missiles to the Ukrainian military has now been approved
  • Concerns remain, however, over the extent to which such weapons can be used effectively without training and over the import bureaucracy such deliveries will have to overcome

A longstanding request by the Ukrainian government to receive US-made anti-armour weapons is now progressing, US government officials stated on 22 December.

US troops firing Javelin ATGMs on an exercise in Estonia in July 2014. These weapons, if effectively introduced, could significantly enhance Ukrainian troops’ ability to counter Russian armour in the Donbass. (Estonian Defence Forces)US troops firing Javelin ATGMs on an exercise in Estonia in July 2014. These weapons, if effectively introduced, could significantly enhance Ukrainian troops’ ability to counter Russian armour in the Donbass. (Estonian Defence Forces)

The Ukrainian request to receive the Lockheed Martin FGM-148 Javelin manportable anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) dates back to early 2014 after Ukrainian troops found themselves engaged with some of the latest Russian MBTs, such as T-90Ss, in the conflict in the country’s Eastern Donbass region.

Throughout numerous fact-finding missions made into the Donbass by Western observers, one of “the central needs that we kept seeing over and over was the lack of an ATGM with a tandem warhead”, former US Department of Defense official Dr Phillip Karber told Jane’s after one such visit in 2014. “A tandem warhead is the only effective weapon against the reactive armour that is fitted to almost all Russian MBTs and other armoured vehicles.”

Karber, who now heads the Potomac Foundation, a national security think-tank based in Washington, DC, has worked closely with former USAF general Philip Breedlove and former US Army general Wesley Clark (who both held the post of NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe) along with former US assistant defence secretary Ian Brzezinski, to develop a package of military assistance for Ukraine. Breedlove and others have pointed out the importance of Javelin in giving Ukraine’s armed forces a needed boost in its conflict with Russia, but have also stressed that this weapon and others systems needed to be part of an integrated package of military assistance, to include a full spectrum of training programmes.

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