Javelin Warhead Question


Senior Member
Apr 21, 2009
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With a strong interest in energetic materials I ask my esteemed fellow members of SP with knowledge in these areas to review the following videos.



Now I know that a lot of tests are done without a warhead with any explosion typically a by-product of remaining propellant/kinetic energy at impact.

My question is, however, in the first video the warhead absolutely annihilates the tank (T-62?) literally leaving nothing left of it. Watch the slow motion section the explosive jet actually seems to be exiting through the bottom of the tank from a top impact! I have seen other Javelin videos from Iraq, so I assume there is a warhead, that do not seem to cause anywhere this much damage. The Javelin has alternate warhead settings as well.

Is the first video just a "full power" warhead setting (for lack of a better description) or is it maybe also a test of a more powerful explosive?


Fighting the UAV mafia.
Oct 5, 2009
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I am pretty certain the Javelin has a tandem, shaped-charge warhead of a respectable size. When not launched in a top-attack profile, it can still penetrate the front of many vehicles and is designed to deal with any ERA that may be placed on the roof or elsewhere.

The first video I believe was a T-72 with a simulated load of fuel and ammo designed to represent the effects of all of that going off when the Javelin hits. It is pretty rare for even a 120mm APFSDS hit to have such a devastating impact. The autoloader is in a pretty well protected (difficult to hit) location but if it did get hit and the ammo went off you could probably expect something like that. Often times Iraqi and other T-series operators store additional ammo in the fighting compartment which certainly doesn't help their chances when hit.


ACCESS: Secret
Jan 30, 2008
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I'm not an expert on the Javelin system by any means, but I do know that it wouldn't be the first time a demonstration target had been packet with HE and gasoline canisters to make it "look good" in the promotional video. Or, as the contractor would call it, "loaded with fuel and ammunition to represent a realistic target".

Just a thought, but I have attended enough weapons demonstrations to have become somewhat cynical and suspicious ;)

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen


ACCESS: Above Top Secret
Senior Member
Apr 16, 2008
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Having chatted with folks who used Javelin operationally in Iraq, yeah, that first video is actually pretty representative of what Javelin does to a typical Russian/Soviet-bloc tank with ammo and fuel on board. Lots of little pieces everywhere.

If you're seeing video of Javelin with less impressive secondary effects, it may be that the target tanks are actually empty. In combat, a lot of shots are spent to "confirm" targets that are actually dead but not obviously so. Alternatively, the missile might just be hitting a less ideal spot -- if the shaped charge goes through the engine compartment, for example, you'll still likely get a k-kill but not necessarily a massive secondary like you see when the missile hits the turret roof and penetrates into the autoloader.

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