Javelin surface to air missile launcher.JPEG
British soldier posing with Javelin triple launcher (1996)
TypeManportable surface-to-air missile
Place of originUnited Kingdom
Service history
Used bySee Operators
Production history
ManufacturerThales Air Defence
Mass11.1 kilograms (24 lb) (missile)
24.3 kilograms (54 lb) (system)
Length1.39 metres (4 ft 7 in)
Diameter76 millimetres (3 in)

Effective firing range300 to 4,500 metres (980 to 14,760 ft) against jets to 5,500 metres (18,000 ft) against helicopters
WarheadHigh-explosive warhead
Warhead weight2.74 kilograms (6.0 lb) (containing 0.6 kilograms (1.3 lb) of HE) with contact and proximity fuzes
Impact force or proximity fuze

EngineSolid fuel rocket
Maximum speed Mach 1.7+ approx.
SACLOS system

Javelin is a British man-portable surface-to-air missile, formerly used by the British Army and Canadian Army. It can be fired from the shoulder, or from a dedicated launcher named the Lightweight Multiple Launcher (LML), that carries three rounds, and can be vehicle mounted.

The missile is an updated version of the earlier Blowpipe of the 1970s. Blowpipe used a manual guidance system which proved almost useless in combat during the Falklands War where 100 firings resulted in two hits. Javelin replaced the manual guidance system with a semi-automatic command to line of sight (SACLOS) system that only required the operator to keep their gunsight pointed at the target. A tracking system in the launcher's optics compared the location of the missile to the line-of-sight and sent it commands over a radio link to guide it. This version entered service in 1984, and was later known as Javelin GL.

Further upgrades to the missile added a fully automatic guidance system to produce the Javelin S-15. This was sold commercially, and is better known, as the Starburst surface-to-air missile. These began to replace the GL in British Army service in 1993, although the GL remained in use as a training system. Both were replaced by Starstreak starting around 1997.[1]

Javelin GL was hastily purchased by the Canadian Forces to replace the Blowpipes that failed last-minute tests during preparations for the deployment to the Persian Gulf for the First Gulf War (1990–1991).[2][3][4] It was later replaced by the Javelin S15 until retired without replacement in 2005.


The missile was developed as a replacement for the Blowpipe MANPADS, which was used in the Falklands War by both sides, and proved largely ineffective. Only two hits were recorded out of more than 100 launches: a British Harrier GR3 (XZ972) attacked by Argentine Army special forces (Commandos Company), and an Argentine Aermacchi MB-339 (0766 (4-A-114)) during the Battle of Goose Green.[5]

Operational use

Similar in overall appearance to the manual command to line of sight (MCLOS), radio frequency guided Blowpipe, Javelin is slightly smaller, uses semi-automatic command to line of sight (SACLOS) radio frequency guidance and is fitted with an improved warhead. The operator is equipped with a 6× magnification sight and a long range television (TV) camera to locate targets. Although the Javelin's accuracy is somewhat susceptible to smoke, fog, or clouds, it cannot be decoyed away from a target with flares because it does not use an infrared or ultraviolet (UV) spectrum seeker. It is potentially susceptible to infrared jammers such as AN/ALQ-144.


Map with Javelin operators in blue
Map with Javelin operators in blue

Current operators

 South Korea

Former operators

 United Kingdom

See also


  1. ^ "Thales Javelin". Military Factory (MilitaryFactory.com). Retrieved 25 May 2021.
  2. ^ Thatcher, Chris (21 December 2017). "Critical Gap: Defending the Threat from Above". Canadian Army Today. Retrieved 21 January 2022.
  3. ^ "The Navy Today: The Gulf War: Javelin Surface-to-Air Missile". Canadian War Museum. Retrieved 21 January 2022.
  4. ^ rca_admin (27 September 2020) [1 January 2017]. "Javelin Surface to Air Missile UK". Royal Canadian Artillery Museum. Retrieved 21 January 2022.
  5. ^ Freedman, Lawrence, Sir (31 May 2004). The Official History of the Falklands Campaign: War and Diplomacy. Vol. 2. Abingdon. pp. 732–735. ISBN 978-0415419116.
  6. ^ Motlogelwa, Tshireletso (13 April 2012). "Khamas monopolised Botswana Defence Force (BDF) tenders". XairForces.