Infantry: Simplicity and Reliability Come at a Price


October 17, 2005: American ground troops have finally gotten an anti-tank missile they like, and that works easily and reliably. The Javelin, first used during 2003 invasion of Iraq, is a 21 pound "fire and forget" missile with a 2,500 meters range and the ability to knock out most armored vehicles (except for the most modern ones, and then only when hitting their frontal armor.) Several hundred Javelins were fired in 2003, and over a thousand to date. One advantage of the Javelin is its weight. The sight and firing unit (CLU, for Command Launch Unit) weighs 15 pounds, which the missile, which comes in a sealed, 13.5 pound firing tube, weighs 21.5 pounds. What the infantry really like is the simplicity (you get the target in the cross hairs, pull the trigger, and that's that) and reliability of the system. The U.S. Army recently ordered another 901 CLUs and 101 trainer systems. The only down side is that each missile costs $75,000. Simplicity and reliability come at a price. But throw a CLU and a few missile tubes (each is 42 inches long) into the back of a hummer, and you're ready to take out armored vehicles, a bunker or a building the bad guys won't come out of.


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