Does Kyiv need Javelins? It has its own developments

Author : Mykyta Sinitsyn

Source : 112 Ukraine

The issue of supplying Ukraine with Javelins in 2018 is rather a political step than the military need of our country
17:00, 8 May 2018

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The statement of the President Poroshenko on the arrival of the first party of US FGM-148 Fuselage Missile from the planned 35 launchers and 210 missiles, which have been expected since 2015 and are treated almost as a breakthrough in the Donbass conflict, has provoked real stir.

I must say that the last hopes are exaggerated: to give the status of a "wunderwaffe" to a good, but nevertheless, the highly specialized type of weapon, ATGM, designed to combat armored targets, helicopters, and field fortifications, is a too confident step. Actually, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Wess Mitchell, who said that Ukraine should use Javelin anti-tank complexes for defense, has already made it clear that one should not expect from Javelin for some special changes, and even more, a breakthrough in Donbas battles.

Is there any weapon in our country capable of acting, if not a competitor, at least analogous? Our country has the richest potential for the development and production of tanks and armored vehicles. Is it incapable of creating the means of combating them?

Related: Javelins were supplied to Ukraine few weeks ago, - U.S. State Department

State Kyiv Design Bureau "Luch" is specializing in the production of various weapons. The list of nomenclature produced by the Bureau of weapons systems includes anti-tank missile systems, counting three units: the light portable Korsar missile system, the Barrier antiaircraft missile system and the SKFF antiaircraft missile system (adopted by the Ukrainian Armed Forces as Stugna-P).

The earliest of the mentioned ATGMs - "Barrier" - first introduced in 2005 at the IDEX exhibition, is now mass-produced by Artyom state joint stock holding company.

At the moment there are two main variants:

1) "Barrier": designed for armored vehicles as part of combat modules used in armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles. It has a caliber of 130 mm, a maximum range of 5,000 meters, a semi-automatic guidance system for the laser beam, armor penetration with a tandem cumulative warhead not less than 800 mm with dynamic protection, the temperature range of application from -40 to +60 degrees;

2) "Barrier-B": Mi-24 helicopters are the last ones to be armed; its characteristics have been slightly improved, in particular, the range of the rocket is increased to 7,500 m, and the guidance system has the laser beam with target tracking in automatic mode.

Related: Javelin missile complexes are not in service of Ukraine's Armed Forces yet, - Joint Force Commander

The light portable rocket complex "Korsar" is close to Javelin (by some parameters), but on the whole, it is clearly inferior to it. The complex was demonstrated at the IDEX exhibition in 2005, but it was tested only in 2013.

"Korsar" has a caliber of a 107 mm rocket against 127 mm in Javelin, a range of 2,500 m (similar to American ATGM). The weight of the Ukrainian complex is more than 24 kg without taking into account a 6-kilogram, armor penetration is 550 mm.

The undoubted advantage of "Korsar" is in its cost: $ 130 thousand and 20 thousand for one missile mean in total the cost of ATGM and 6 missiles, that is 250 thousand dollars against 1.3 million dollars for "Javelin".

Finally, the latest domestic model of ATGM from Luch - Stugna-P (Skif); is the closest to the American variant and considerably exceeds it by one parameter.

It should be pointed out at once that "Skif" is a missile complex, developed by Ukraine and Belarus, based on the Ukrainian anti-tank missile "Stugna". The version of ATGM, adopted for the Armed Forces in 2011, was named "Stugna-P".  In 2015, “Stugna-P” was adopted in the National Guard.

Related: US defense budget bill for 2019 provides allocatiing of $250 mln for Ukraine

Unlike the Ukrainian complex, "Javelin" has a homing head, which makes it more mobile, more accurate, and quicker than "Stugna-P". After starting the operator might hide, as the rocket itself must "find" the target. However, the aimer must clearly see the goal.

The caliber of the rocket at "Stugna-P" is slightly higher - 130 mm against 127, but the main advantage of the Ukrainian analog is its range.

"Javelin" can confidently work on fire-and-forget seeker principle, while "Stugna-P" theoretically works up to 5,000 m, the operator of the FREG FGM-148 Javelin with 22.5 kilos of cargo was noticed by the target before it approached 2.5 km.

Of course, what is possible in theory will not necessarily happen in practice. The main factor in favor of Javelin is the experience of its combat use in Iraq, in conditions of which the range of ATGM was quite sufficient for victory. At the same time, the domestic ATGM cannot boast of combat experience in the conditions of Donbas conflict. In any case, there is no reliable official data for their use in the public domain.

Related: Antonov State Enterprise sees 85% increase in net profit in 2017

In the summer of 2017, Ukroboronprom state concern reported on the early completion of the order for the delivery of 300 Stugna rockets to the Ukrainian Armed Forces in the continuation of the 2016 order, that is, Ukrainian army had the rockets already in 2016, but whether they were used at the forefront - the question remains open.

Of course, the issue of supplying Ukraine with "Javelins" in 2018 is more a political subject than the military need of our country. It is a symbol of Ukraine's support from the United States and a clear message for Russia. If we leave politics aside, it would be more advantageous for Ukraine to develop its own ATGMs. By and large, we can deal with the situation without "Javelins". According to Petro Poroshenko, this year the army will also get “Stugna”. However, when you are offered, in fact, free "Javelins," it is hard to refuse from them.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or 112.International and its owners.

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