Is Russia Getting Ready to Build Its Very Own 'Javelin' Tank-Killer Missile?

Charlie Gao

Key Point: While the Javelin is nominally a man-portable system, it is rather bulky and hard to get into action rapidly. Its command-launch unit thermal sight requires a cool down time of 2.5-3.5 minutes for it to be able to fire shots, though the day sight can be used to lock onto targets faster.

Earlier this year reported on a new man-portable anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) reported to be in development by the Russian military complex. These reports compared the upcoming system to the American Javelin system, due to the rocket being fire-and-forget.

But knowing Russian doctrine, is a Javelin style system the best fit? Could the Russians be developing a simpler system instead?

The defence-blog report references a 2018 Russian GRAU report called “тематический сборник,” which discusses near-future developments of the Russian military. GRAU, which roughly translates to the Main Missile and Artillery Directorate for the Russian Ministry of Defense, oversees all procurement of weapons and procurement for the Russian military.

In the section detailing the “scientific-technical” activities of GRAU, the chairman of GRAU’s scientific-technical committee, Colonel Roman Borisovich Spirin describes the new Russian ATGM.

Spirin lists a variety of aspects that future ATGMs are expected to improve: armor penetration, resistance to jamming. But critically, it lists “обеспечение поражения целей в слабо защищенные проекции,” or roughly “destruction of the target by hitting weak zones” as a key aspect of the ATGM.

This is in marked contrast to earlier Russian ATGMs which largely used larger warheads or more warheads to defeat armor. This could be in response to the increasing strength of composite armor packages on NATO tanks such as the latest M1A2C Abrams, which render their armor hard to defeat with simply larger warheads.

Some Russian gun-launched ATGMs had limited top-attack capability by boosting their flight path as they approached their target. This was probably because the penetrative power of these was limited by the diameter of the gun barrel.

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