The FGM-148 Javelin is a portable anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) launcher.
The FGM-148 Javelin is a man-portable fire-and-forget missile used primarily by the U.S. military. The weapon system consists of two major parts: the disposable launch tube assembly (LTA), and the reusable Command Launch Unit (CLU, pronounced "clue") which consists of a 4× telescopic daysight (a simple optic that works even if the CLU is switched off) and a passive IR (thermal) sight with two field of view settings, WFOV (4×) or NFOV (12×). The CLU can be used separately as a surveillance device.
To use the system, the operator mates the CLU to an LTA and removes the LTA's front cover to expose the missile seeker. After locating his target and using the CLU's sight modes to positively identify it, the user presses the seeker activation trigger on the left grip. After a ten-second activation period while the missile cools its optics to working temperature, this switches to the fourth sight mode, SEEK, which is a 9× magnification IR view from the 64×64 pixel IR seeker on the nose of the missile itself. In this mode the operator users a control resembling a D-pad on the right hand grip to manually shift a set of "tracking gates" (visually, the four corners of an open-sided rectangle) in the sight to frame the hull of the target, with a crosshair to place over the center of mass. Javelin uses contrast detection, and so can lock on to any target that is significantly hotter or colder than its surroundings. Once the seeker has acquired the target described by the track gates, the missile can be fired by pressing the trigger on the right hand grip. The missile container's battery-coolant unit (BCU) has coolant and power for four minutes: if the missile is not fired within this period after seeker activation, the BCU will have to be replaced and the lock-on procedure repeated.
The missile can be fired in two different modes, selectable by the operator after the missile seeker has cooled down but before lock-on. The CLU can program an arcing top-attack flight profile against armored vehicles (attacking the top armor which is generally thinner), or a direct-attack mode for use against buildings or fortifications, which has a shorter climbout and attempts to impact the side of the target. The missile also has the ability to engage helicopters in the direct attack mode. Minimum range is 65m (213ft) in direct-fire mode, and 150m (492ft) in top-attack mode. The missile is ejected from the launcher by a small charge so that it reaches a safe distance from the operator before the main rocket motors ignite; this is known as a "Soft Launch Arrangement." This makes it harder to identify the launcher and allows it to be fired from within buildings without extensive preparations. However, back-blast from the launch tube still poses a hazard to nearby personnel. The missile requires no further input from the launcher after firing, allowing the team to immediately relocate.
Javelin uses a tandem-charge warhead designed to defeat the reactive armor found on most modern tanks. The precursor charge, located right behind the seeker assembly, explodes on contact, causing any reactive armor it has hit to detonate and expend its energy, allowing the primary warhead in the missile's midsection to penetrate through and make direct contact with the base armor before detonating. The Javelin was used in the 2003 Invasion of Iraq, with devastating effects on Iraqi-variant T-72 and Type 69 Main Battle Tanks.
In 2014, British PMC Praying Mantis forces utilized the FGM-148 Javelin in their mission in the Middle East, against a BMP-3 used by a rival PMC group that forced the former to retreat earlier, at the Crescent Meridian.
Behind the scenes
The FGM-148 Javelin is featured in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots and is very much unlike the real life version; rather than a multi-use launcher using self-guided, fire-and-forget missiles, it is depicted as a disposable single-use device which fires manually guided missiles that steer towards where the weapon is pointed, much like its predecessor, the M47 Dragon. Conversely, in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, the M47 is more akin to a real Javelin, being capable of fire-and-forget. PMC forces in Act 1 are shown using the Javelin in top-attack mode against an oncoming militia BMP-3, but Snake cannot use it in this way. As the most powerful of the game's four missile launchers, it is especially useful for taking out hardened enemies, such as Gekko (be wary of Gekko with deflection capability). It can be purchased from Drebin's shop, or on very rare occasions, found being used by PMC soldiers.
The Javelin can be first found in Act 1, in the Crescent Meridian section, where the militia brings out a BMP-3 to clear out Praying Mantis forces. One of the buildings on the left side of the street contains a PMC soldier armed with a Javelin; he'll likely be the first to get a shot off at the BMP, unless the player is able to take him out quickly enough. Keep the Solid Eye equipped, as it will come in handy in locating all of the anti-armor threats in the area. However, even if Solid Snake manages to guide the BMP past all the Javelin teams, a final team will open fire with missiles in top-attack mode from a high bridge and destroy it.
The Javelin is hidden in the same building that the anti-armor PMC soldier was in. The player must use caution when going for it, as there's a sniper just to their right at the end of the ladder. It can also be found in the shack in Act 2 where the player acquires the XM8 Rifle.