compiled overview of the 30ton Javelin 'Mech, from various BattleTech novels and game sourcebooks:



The JVN-1 ON Javelin is one of the newer recon vehicles used by the armies of the Successor States. First produced in 2751, the light 'Mech still had not been entirely integrated into many 'Mech regiments by the beginning of the First Succession War in 2786. The Javelin's appearance on the battlefield caught many combatants off guard. House Davion took a particular interest in the Javelin's development, introducing the 'Mech into many recon lances. Today, after its use in centuries of Succession Wars, the Javelin is known as a reliable scout 'Mech.

The Javelin's main function is reconnaissance, though it is also used extensively in ambushes, giving rise to the widespread use of the phrase "sneaky as a Javelin".

The Javelin is fast and maneuverable, its Rawlings 95 jump jets providing it with enough thrust to leap as far as 180 meters in a single jump. With these movement capabilities, the Javelin can avoid having to engage heavier 'Mechs.

The Javelin has several disadvantages common to recon 'Mechs. Its armament is designed only for short and medium ranges, and so a Javelin pilot must take care to avoid being caught by long-range fire. The 'Mech's two racks of Arrowlite SRM-6 systems are devastasting at short range, however, and many light and medium enemy 'Mechs have come under a rain of concentrated missile fire from a lance of Javelins as a result of poor scouting.

With its ample missile ammunition supply, the Javelin does not run out of ammo as quickly as other 'Mechs, making it useful in rear-guard or holding actions. Once its missiles are spent, however, commanders usually try to pull a Javelin out of action because its light armor makes it a poor hand-to-hand combat fighter.

The Javelin design has one other, less-known problem. Its torso-mounted missile racks and ammunition supply pull the 'Mech's center of gravity dangerously far forward when it is at full-load displacement. This tends to make the machine somewhat top-heavy and prone to falls when moving at high speeds in difficult terrain.

During the bloody battle of Kentares IV in March of 2796, Bunk's Recon Lance of Rejold's Battalion, Davion's Second Crucis Lancers, awaited the arrival of Kurita forces, with orders to send immediate warning of their approach. As the enemy advanced, the three Javelins and one Wasp of Bunk's Lance signalled the Davion headquarters, then waited in covered positions.

After the enemy had passed by, Bunk's Lance rose up and bombarded the rear units of the Kurita 'Mechs, destroying one Phoenix Hawk and heavily damaging two others. Bunk's Lance then jumped out of position, pursued by more than a company of the enemy. Using leapfrogging tactics, the Javelins kept up a harassing bombardment of missile fire until they were in support range of heavier friendly units.

Javelins also played a major role in the Second Battle of Cylene II in December, 3002. In that battle, the recon lances of House Davion's Fourth Deneb Light Cavalry were hidden in a moderately sized recreational lake known as Waterhole Number Nine. Composed mostly of Javelins, these recon lances were put in standby mode while they waited under 30 meters of water for the rest of the Davion forces to pull back from the advancing Kurita army. With their heat signatures hidden by the deep water, the Davion recon lances went undetected until the heavy 'Mechs of Kurita's assault regiments entered the lake to begin attacking the Davion defense line, some 400 meters away. Suddenly, Kurita 'Mechs started collapsing into the water amid huge explosions as the Javelins' missiles hit them at point blank range. At the same moment, the Davion land forces counterattacked, routing the enemy and inflicting heavy losses. Shortly after this encounter, Kurita forces evacuated Cylene II.



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The javelin is a popular weapon in many Fantasy Role-Playing games, and was used widely in the real world for hunting and defense before the advent of gunpowder weapons.

Javelins are a type of light spear that are easily usable both on foot or while mounted. This was one of mankinds earliest weapons. It has the distinctive advantage of being usable both as a melee weapon, and at range. The javelin is usually 3 or more feet long with a small leaf shaped head. More primitive javelins may have a triangular stone head, or no head at all (the shaft itself will be sharpened in this case).

The javelin is most popular as a hunting and ceremonial weapon. In the modern age it has primarily become a piece of sporting equipment, as the javelin toss is now a rather popular Track and Field event.

The Javelin is a U.S. man-portable anti-armor guided missile system. It is utilized by the U.S. Army and Marines, as well as some U.S. allies. It was procured as a replacement and follow-on for the DRAGON wire-guided missile system, which U.S. forces previously used. It is not intended to replace the vehicle-mounted TOW missile system; rather, it is intended for dismounted infantry use.

A Javelin team consists of two soldiers, a missileer and a loader. The system itself consists of a reusable CLU Command and Launch Unit, onto which prepackaged missile rounds in sealed tubes are attached for use. The CLU contains the day/night sight, the triggering mechanism, and electronics for target acquisition, tracking and system tests. The sighting is either optical (day) or passive IR (night); the target acquisition system acquires an IR target from the sights and hands it off to the missile electronics, receiving confirmation that the missile has the target locked, before notifying the user that the missile is ready. The missile will acquire the target on its own IR sensors before acknowledging.

The missile is cold-launched, meaning it is fired out of the tube using a pyrotechnic rather than by firing the missile rocket motor. Thus, it can be launched from enclosed spaces without endangering the firer. The rocket motor ignites once the missile is several meters away from the firing position.

The major advantage of the Javelin over prior systems is that it is a fire and forget weapon. Once the missile has acknowledged lock and been launched from the CLU, the operator need take no further action. The missile's on-board electronics will fly the weapon to the desired target, assuming the missile does not lose lock. This is a distinct change from the DRAGON or even TOW systems, where the operator must remain focused on the target in order to 'steer' the weapon to its destination. It is therefore easier to defend against a TOW or DRAGON, for as soon as the missile ignites its engines it is visible to the target. If, at that point, the target (and other units nearby) begin firing at the missile's point of origin, they can disrupt the shot. They need not even hit the operator, merely cause him or her to move the system crosshairs off the target (in the case of the TOW) or lose control of the missile (in the case of the DRAGON), in order to 'generate a miss.'

The Javelin uses an IIR (imaging infrared) sensor in order to 'see' a picture of the target as a thermal signature. It follows that signature once launched. There are two modes it can be fired in; the default mode, for use against armored vehicles, is top attack. In this mode, the missile will 'pop up' right before impact and fire a shaped charge down into the vehicle's thinner top armor. If the missile is being used against fortifications, or thin-skinned vehicles like helicopters, it can be set to direct-attack, in which case it will strike the target head-on and fire its charge forward. The warhead on the Javelin is rated for 600mm of RHA penetration.

The CLU can also be used without a missile attached (it runs off of its own disposable batteries). In this mode, it is useful as a daytime magnifier and night vision system/magnifier for scouting.

Javelin weighs approximately 49 pounds as a system (CLU with live round attached). It is fired from the shoulder of a kneeling or standing soldier. It can be mounted on a bipod for stability during long wait times or for defensive positions.

The Javelin was first used in combat during the Second Gulf War. Some months later, there is a bit of a disagreement developing over its effectiveness; U.S. Marines who utilized the missile in combat (and, in at least one case, while being broadcast live by an embedded reporter and crew) claim that the missile often lost lock on its target, striking the ground short or travelling erratically before missing the target and striking other objects behind it. In one case, a U.S. Marine Lieutenant claims that his unit fired a missile at a stationary unmanned fuel truck as a test; in that case, the first missile missed (after reporting prior to launch that it had a lock) and fell short.

Lockheed Missiles & Space, the makers of the missile, claim that the weapon performed at or above expectations in its live-fire tests to date, and maintain that if there is a problem with the unit, more data on its battlefield use will need to be collected and analyzed. The Pentagon is denying that there is a widespread problem, and the Army is claiming they suffered no out-of-profile failures. However, the Marine complaints come from users in the field, while other service comments come from command HQ spokespeople; time will tell if there truly are problems with the weapon that need to be corrected.

None of this should surprise or even disturb the serious student of military systems and procurement. One of the axioms of procuring weapon systems is that the first combat use will always reveal flaws or at least unexpected behavior of the weapon; the acquisition plan acknowledges this, with multiple 'milestone' requirements for the weapon.

In this particular case, it may be a combination of user actions and the missiles themselves. One weakness of the system is that it requires a target with a consistent visible heat signature. If the target is behind cover, or has its engine turned off (as in the case of the sitting duck fuel truck) then it is possible for the missile to 'lock' onto a thermal picture that doesn't in fact reflect the target vehicle's outline. If the operator 'told' the missile to select a poor target, increased erratic flights might be a result. One fact that doesn't help, likely, is the missile's cost; at $68,500 per all-up round, there has been extremely limited live-fire training or testing of the missile; the military has relied a great deal on computer simulations for training. While simulations can be quite effective at training, they are limited by the knowledge of the simulation designers, and are therefore much less useful for discovering problems with the weapon. Furthermore, the quality of the training is highly dependent on the simulation design as well - incorrect assumptions embedded in the sim can result in the learning and integration of counterproductive methods of using the real system.

The Javelin has had troubles before; during testing, it was found to have a penetration depth of only around 500mm, rather than the 600mm required. Study revealed that changes had been made to a component in the missile after design, and that a different supplier had been used for a piece inside the warhead. These two changes made for a different thickness and density of the plastic 'shield' around the component, and this thicker shield was found to be disrupting the warhead's function. Changing back to the original design spec fixed the problem.

Sources:

  • Federation of American Scientists' page on the Javelin at http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/land/javelin.htm
  • Global Security.org's page at http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/munitions/javelin.htm
  • Lockheed Martin's product information at http://www.missilesandfirecontrol.com/our_products/antiarmor/JAVELIN/product-JAVELIN.html#factsheet
  • CNN and BBC television coverage
  • "Javelin Didn't Earn Its Stripes, Marines Claim" - San Diego Union-Tribune, July 22 2003.

Jave"lin (?), n. [F. javeline; akin to Sp. jabalina, It. giavelina, and F. javelot, OF. gavlot. Cf. Gavelock.]

A sort of light spear, to be thrown or cast by the hand; anciently, a weapon of war used by horsemen and foot soldiers; now used chiefly in hunting the wild boar and other fierce game.

Flies the javelin swifter to its mark, Launched by the vigor of a Roman arm? Addison.

© Webster 1913.


Jave"lin, v. t.

To pierce with a javelin.

[R.]

Tennyson.

 

© Webster 1913.

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