The modern missiles with which Ukraine hopes to stop Russian tanks in case of invasion

A soldier holds a Javelin missile system during a military exercise at the Ukrainian forces training center near Rivne (REUTERS / Gleb Garanich) (GLEB GARANICH /)

As tension with Russia grows, Ukraine has recently strengthened its defense capabilities. The Ukrainian troops received from their main allies – with the United States and the United Kingdom at the head – advanced weapons to face the Russian threat.

Among the new generation equipment held by the Ukrainian Army Javelin and NLAW missiles stand out, capable of destroying Russian tanks and armored vehicles.

On January 17, C-17 cargo planes from the British Royal Air Force arrived in Kiev. On that day, the UK Defense Minister, ben wallace, maintained that the government of Boris Johnson decided to “supply Ukraine with light anti-armor defensive weapons systems”.

The United States, for its part, began sending Ukraine its own Javelin anti-tank missiles in 2018. In December last year it approved an additional $200 million weapons package, including more such projectiles. In addition, this month allowed Estonia to send more to the Ukrainian troops.

These missiles are provided with their respective launchers. In 2018, Washington sent 210 projectiles along with 37 launchers. A year later, another batch of 150 missiles and 10 launchers was added. On January 21, the US embassy in Kiev confirmed the arrival of a new shipment.

The Javelin weapon system is manufactured by American companies Raytheon and Lockheed Martin.

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These devices feature a launch unit (CLU) and a double-headed projectile. The missile is placed in the CLU, which weighs just 6.4 kilograms, and the shooter searches for the target using the sight (night or day).

The missile, weighing 15.9 kilograms, has two charges. The first is designed to detonate all types of armor, and the second to pierce the target. This feature places it in a very select category.

Its propulsion system, based on solid fuel, generates little smoke and allows a smooth launch, even in small places and areas. The effective range of this missile, which also features effective cadmium/mercury infrared guidance, is up to four kilometers.

The Javelin belongs to the missiles known as “fire and forget”: the gunner can locate a tank, lock onto the target, fire, and then flee to safety, without having to follow its path. In addition, it can be ready to fire in less than 30 seconds, and can be reloaded in as little as 20.

It also has two modes of use: direct attack or from above. The former is primarily used from covered positions such as bunkers and buildings. In this way, the missile takes the shortest route to reach the target, being able to reach 50 meters in height.

The attack from above, on the other hand, more quickly destroys the main targets: the tanks. The most vulnerable areas of these military vehicles are at the top and bottom. What the projectile does, instead of taking the fastest path, is to rise to a certain height and then fall on the roof of the tank.

Thanks to its combat warhead, which has a penetration of more than 600 mm, This type of missile is developed to deal with the most modern tanks, such as the Russian ones.

Missiles, however, can also be fooled, as most modern barrages can release concealing smoke, whose objective is to confuse the thermal sensors of the projectile. In fact, last November Ukrainian forces spotted some Russian tanks with “slat” armor on top. Others appeared to have heat-emitting decoys to deflect warheads.

FGM-148 Javelin Ukrainian missiles
Ukraine seeks to strengthen its defense system against a possible Russian invasion

The other anti-tank missile that the Ukrainian troops have is the NLAW, developed by the Swedish company SAAB, in cooperation with the British Ministry of Defence.

Despite having similar capabilities to the FMG-148 Javelin, it is less powerful. Among its main virtues, it can destroy Russian tanks at short distances: its combat range is between 20 and 800 meters. It is even the only system capable of reaching a tank or any armored unit from a distance of 20 meters.

The minimum time from target detection to engagement is approximately 5 seconds.

Armed with a powerful high-explosive warhead (with 150mm penetration), flies at a height of almost a meter above the tank with the projectile head pointing downwards.

These properties make NLAW missiles ideal for ambushes in wooded terrain and fortifications.

However, the Russian Army could also resist these missiles via Active Protection System (APS), which uses radar to detect the projectiles and then fires explosively shaped ones to stop them.

According to what was stated by The Economist, ben barry, a former British Army officer who works at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, maintains that only a small proportion of Russian tanks currently have such defenses. But on the other hand, these tanks would probably be at the forefront of an attack, which would be a problem not only for the Ukrainians, but also for NATO.

Over the weekend, Ukraine received tons of weapons sent by the United States (US Air Force/Mauricio Campino/Handout via REUTERS)
Over the weekend, Ukraine received tons of weapons sent by the United States (United States Air Force/Mauricio Campino/Handout via REUTERS) (Handout ./)

The former British soldier explained that defeating an APS would require reverting to an older form of anti-tank warfare: attack the armor with mortars and shots to damage the radar.

“The Russian way of waging war is to destroy the enemy with massive artillery fire and mop up the survivors with infantry and armor (…) The Russians hope to kill most of the anti-tank gunners with artillery well before their tanks come within range of the missiles,” he explained. Amael Kotlarsky, publisher of Janes Infantry Weapons.

Last Sunday he arrived in Kiev a second shipment of US military material, 80 tons of supplies in addition to the 90 tons that arrived at Borispil airport on Saturday, about 29 kilometers east of the Ukrainian capital.

The United States Embassy in Ukraine reported these shipments, although it has not specified the exact material of the shipment beyond describing it as “aid of a lethal nature, including ammunition for the defenders of the Ukraine front.”

Russia has repeatedly spoken out against the arrival of military equipment in Ukraine, understanding that it only serves to increase military tension in the area, as had recently happened with another consignment of light anti-tank weapons delivered by the United Kingdom.

Russia deployed almost 100,000 soldiers near the border with Ukraine (KONSTANTIN MIHALCHEVSKIY / SPUTNIK)
Russia deployed almost 100,000 soldiers near the border with Ukraine (KONSTANTIN MIHALCHEVSKIY / SPUTNIK) (KONSTANTIN MIHALCHEVSKIY / SPUTN/)

The Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania they have also expressed interest in sending US-made anti-aircraft systems to Ukraine.

As reported by the Estonian Ministry of Defense on its website, the country will provide Javelin anti-tank missiles, while Latvia and Lithuania will send “Stinger anti-aircraft missiles and adjacent equipment.”

The Kremlin has repeatedly denied that it is planning an invasion, but the significant presence of Russian troops on the border with Ukraine, with some 100,000 soldiers, and the new military maneuvers announced by Moscow for the coming weeks have increased US nervousness and NATO.

As Washington and European powers coordinate actions to counter the Russian threat, dozens of Ukrainian civilians have joined Army reserves in recent months., as fears mount that Moscow is planning to launch a full-scale attack.

the ukrainian army, which has a total of 215,000 soldiers, has been fighting a Moscow-backed insurgency in two breakaway regions since 2014 in a simmering conflict that has claimed more than 13,000 lives.

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