The Ukrainian military has fired the first training shots of the American Javelin anti-tank systems. President Petro Poroshenko was present at the tests. He emphasized that the systems are defensive in nature, and will only be used if the positions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) are attacked. A video of the tests was published on Poroshenko’s personal Facebook page.
“Finally this day has arrived!” the video clip on the Ukrainian president’s Facebook page is titled. “Today for the first time Javelin missile systems were fired in Ukraine. Thanks to them, the AFU’s military capabilities have grown significantly,” Poroshenko commented.
The video from the training ground shows a missile being fired, flying, and destroying a training target. The successful launch is followed by applause from off-screen.
“This is a defensive weapon, and it will be used when Russia attacks the positions of the Ukrainian troops,” the head of Ukraine said. He emphasized that the divisions that attended the tests had undergone complete training for using the systems. Furthermore, he noted that in addition to the Javelin system, the Ukrainian-developed Stugna anti-tank systems were also tested at the training ground, also with “successful results”.
Poroshenko thanked US President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and the US parliament for the successful collaboration. “You have seen the happy soldiers’ faces. Today their dream has come true. This has very symbolic significance, because it is a symbol of collaboration with our American partners,” the Ukrainian president remarked.
News of the plans to supply Ukraine with Javelin anti-tank systems came out in December 2017. The TV channel ABC News reported with reference to sources in the State Department that there were plans to send 210 anti-tank missiles and 35 launchers worth $47 million to Ukraine. According to Poroshenko, the delivery was to be made at the US’s expense. In April this year, both the US State Department and Kyiv confirmed that the cargo with the weapons had arrived in Ukraine.
As observed by Heorhiy Tuka, deputy minister of the temporarily occupied territories and internally displaced persons, the US placed certain restrictions on the use of the systems. Notably, Washington prohibited their placement directly on the demarcation line in the Donbas. However, Tuka pointed out that this restriction could be lifted at any moment. “I imagine that if there is, as they say, a ‘throaty situation’, we will receive authorization from the US to use at least two or three of these systems. And this will take the enemy down a notch for quite a long time,” he said.
The third generation Javelin FGM-148 anti-tank systems were developed in the US at the end of the 1980s and adopted into the armament in 1996. The State Department’s approval is required for the systems to be exported abroad. The system is equipped with an infrared homing device, and can be operated on the “fire and forget” principle. The special feature of the Javelin is that targets are destroyed from above, where there is the least armor protection.