McCain Renews Call to Supply Ukraine with Javelin Missile

Sen. John McCain renewed his call for the U.S. to supply Ukrainian forces with the Javelin anti-tank missile in their fight against pro-Russian separatists.

Sen. John McCain renewed his call for the U.S. to supply Ukrainian forces with the Javelin anti-tank missile in their fight against pro-Russian separatists.

The Republican senator from Arizona and the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday called on the Obama administration to arm Ukrainian units with the portable missile system made by Lockheed Martin Corp. and Raytheon Co.

“They need a Javelin,” he said in a speech at the Heritage Foundation, a right-leaning think tank in Washington, D.C. “That’s a defensive weapon and we won’t give it to them.”

McCain said blasted President Obama for failing to take a more active role in the Ukraine conflict, which he described as “the first time in 70 years a nation is being dismembered as we speak.”

His counterpart committee in Congress, the House Armed Services Committee, chaired by Rep. Mac Thornberry, a Republican from Texas, approved a massive increase in funding for FGM-148 Javelin missile system.

Under the proposed legislation, the Army would receive $168 million for 850 Javelin missiles, up from the president’s budget request of $77 million for 331 missiles; and the Marine Corps would get $79 million for 441 Javelin missiles, up from the president’s request of just $1 million.

The Senate and House have begun negotiating differences in the bills, though a final version hasn’t yet been agreed upon. President Obama has threatened to veto the Republican-crafted legislation for using the Pentagon’s war budget to get around spending caps on the base defense budget.

Since Russia’s annexation of the Crimea territory from the Ukraine last year, McCain has repeatedly said the Ukrainian military will need the Javelin to strike pro-Russian separatists. The shoulder-launched, self-guided missile is designed to destroy tanks, helicopters and other targets.

The U.S. Army’s top commander in Europe, Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, this week said his soldiers could begin training regular Ukraine army troops in November if the White House approves.

His comments came a week after Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, nominated to serve as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, ranked Russia as the greatest national security challenge to the U.S. for its role in backing rebels in Eastern Ukraine.

“If you want to talk about a nation that could pose an existential threat to the United States, I’d have to point to Russia,” he said. “If you look at their behavior, it’s nothing short of alarming.”

–Richard Sisk contributed to this report.

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Brendan McGarry
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  • The Ukrainians produce a highly-effective anti-tank systems of Russian design (Stugna) and their own 'Corsar' system which are as capable as the Javelin. They also outnumber the 'dissident' "russian " forces by every metric – except competence and success. So the addition of western weapons is only a commitment toward what the Ukrainians really want – a fighting force from Western Nations to 'liberate' their dissident east.

    • Edmund

      Ukrainian anti-tank weapons aren't good. They have to fire multiple missiles to destroy a tank as the thanks use reactive amour. The Javelin and the TOW 2 on the other hand have a tandum warhead. This means that avsmall warhead removes the reactive amour before the main warhead destroys the tank. Hence making more effective weapons. Also these weapons are self guided so soldiers don't have to put themselves in the open for long periods of time.

      • James B

        The Javelin is so lethal because it is a diving weapon with fire-and-forget capability. Virtually all other weapons are command-guided, so guidance is easier to counter, and they fly level profiles, so they hit the thickest armor on tanks.

      • blight_adsfas

        Indeed, the Russian stable of ATGM weapons is still mostly SACLOS/MCLOS. Unsure what they want their light infantry to be doing against tanks.

    • blight_

      Russians make great ATGM's. Even ones with tandem warheads. The Ukranian choice to disband their military and sell off their assets for liquid cash is biting them in the ass. Failure to diversity economy is also telling.

      We could give them TOW, even wireless TOW. Or Israeli spikes.

      • observer48

        The Spike hits the target at 150 m/s while the Javelin at 500 m/s. With the roughly the same mass, the kinetic energy of the Javelin is up to 10 times greater than the Spike's, while the price is almost the same. The Spike can penetrate armours 700 mm thick while the Javelins 1100 mm.

      • blight_asdfljsadf

        What's interesting about the spike is that the LR variant is wire-guided, making it more like the TOW. I'll have to dig through the Spike family and learn more, but you're probably right in that the Javelin is a superior weapon.

        Unless the Ukranians are willing to have their infantry/partisans fight to the death and not abandon Javelin CLU's on the field (which I doubt), then there's going to be little support for giving them Javelins.

      • observer48

        It's not by chance that the first 1000 Ukrainians trainees are National Guard troops who report to the Ministry of Internal Affairs run by the nationalists and mostly made up of patriotic volunteers. They're now an elite force trained as special forces commandos. They all fight to death as if they're captured they're tortured and killed anyway. There were few cases that wounded volunteer fighters blew themselves up during enemy attempts to take them POWs killing those terrorists and Russian soldiers who approached them.

    • jack

      those Russian system r garbage compared to the Javelin. The Javelin outclasses those in every way and is much more portable.

      • blight_adsfas

        Combination of fire and forget, top attack and soft launch is hard to beat.

    • blight_adsfas

      Corsar looks like another laser-guided system the Russians are familiar with. Stugna is hard to judge, but looks bigger and less portable than Javelin.

      Another source suggests Stugna is classic laser-guided ATGM, so unsure who to believe:

      Won't hate on the old stuff, but it does mean more standoff is required, and is less portable…however, more range.

    • observer48

      Javelin missiles are the most effective ones, as they hit the target at 500 m/s (1,4 mach), are launch-and-forget ones, have tandem, depleted uranium warheads and can hit a tank from above, right behind the turret, where usually ammo storage compartments are located. Even the much larger and heavier Russian Kornet isn't a match for the Javelin.

      the Javelin's striking accuracy is to the nearest three feet and the score rate close to 100%. Russians are hysterically afraid of any Javelins in the Ukrainian hands. The missiles would be particularly effective in the urban areas where the terrorists illegally hide their tanks and self-propelled artillery pieces.

      • blight_asdfljsadf

        Depleted uranium is more of a sabot thing, and Javelin employs tandem shaped charges, no?

        Javelin as a man-portable system is hard to beat. It indeed pushes the limits of man portability, but is still more portable than a tripod TOW or other WP systems. The Europeans probably have something like Javelin…

      • observer48

        You're right, there's officially do DU in the Javelins but there were experiments with using it in the tandem. I don't know of such a compact and deadly at the same time weapon manufactured elsewhere. Russian Kornets hits the target at 400 m/s and has tandem-shaped heads but they're large and have to be launched off vehicles or heavy tripods.

  • Brian B. Mulholland

    Do they outnumber the combination of "dissident" forces and Little Green Men?

    It's a tough call. Ukraine has done little in the years since the dissolution of the Soviet Union; the political elite is every bit as corrupt as any third-world former colony (which might be a fair comparison.) Putin can certainly make more force available to the LGMs and separatists, if he wishes. The flip side is that the EU is in a position to insist on the same kind of broad political and economic and structural reforms as are demanded of Greece, and if the Ukrainian elite can (swallow hard) learn to live with reduced larceny, Ukraine could evolve and improve quickly. What Poland has done, Ukraine could do too.

  • Dfens

    What we really need is a proxy war with Russia. The defense contractors win. Everyone else loses.

  • Lance

    Russian have thee own anti tank weapons this wouldn't make Kiev win the war for NATO. Sorry McCain always goes crazy and wants to start WW3 with every one.

  • duker

    Supply expensive US weapons ?. So they can be sold on the black market. Ukrainian troops on peacekeeping duties were notorious for selling everything that was supplied on the black market. Even the diesel would go through the fence.
    These javelins would end up in the middle east

    • bart ninja

      the javelins would end up in Russia and then mass production factories in china.

    • blight_adsfas

      They didn't even want to supply Javelins to India. Hard to imagine them supplying Javelins to the Ukraine. What happens when a unit is captured?

      Export grade Israeli spikes might do the trick. Unless they have an export-grade Javelin…?

  • Supply expensive US weapons ?. So they can be sold on the black market. Ukrainian troops on peacekeeping duties were notorious for selling everything that was supplied on the black market. Even the diesel would go through the fence.

  • blight_asdf

    Have the Russians progressed to sending heavy armor across the border?

    Wonder if the Ukranians are signatory to the numerous mine treaties. Might not be a bad time to use mine dispensers…