Star Weapon In Ukraine War, US Offers India ‘Exclusive Deal’ To Co-Produce FGM-148 Javelin Missiles In Country

One of the star weapons in Ukraine’s military arsenal, the shoulder-fired anti-armor weapon Javelin, is likely to be co-produced in India if the talks between New Delhi and Washington succeed.

During US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan’s recent visit to India, the two sides discussed a range of proposals for joint production, including Javelin anti-tank missile systems for the Indian Army.

Produced by defense contractors Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, the 46-pound weapon is shoulder-fired and has the lethality to penetrate any tank or mobile vehicle on the battlefield. It can also bring down helicopters.

The Indian Army has been looking for shoulder-fired ATGMs for almost a decade. If the discussions progress, a local partner will be scouted to set up a manufacturing plant in India.

The Javelin system is manned by a team of two soldiers. It fires a heat-seeking missile with a range of up to 2.5 miles. It is also called a “fire and forget” system and helps the soldiers run for cover immediately after firing.

The system has earned the name Javelin as it strikes tanks from the top like a spear. The Javelins can also be fired directly at a target, making them a threat against low-flying helicopters.

To meet its need for anti-armor weapons, the Indian Army acquired Spike ATGMs from Israel in 2020 to counter Chinese aggression. Now, India’s state-owned Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the Indian Army have test-fired a man-portable anti-tank guided missile (MPATGM) weapon system at the Pokhran field firing range in Rajasthan.

Announcing the test through a press release on April 14, 2024, the Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) said the MPATGM weapon system – consisting of the missiles, the tripod-mounted command launch unit, the target acquisition system, and the fire-control unit – was field evaluated in different flight configurations several times “to prove its technology” during the test.

It remains to be seen if India will take up the US offer to produce Javelins in India.

The Javelin has been a battle-proven weapon. As per the Pentagon, the US has supplied more than 10,000 Javelin systems to Ukraine. Experts believe the weapon helped Ukraine’s light infantry score kills against the Russian mechanized forces. The FGM-148 Javelin costs about US $176,000 each.

In late August 2023, US defense giant Lockheed Martin said it was almost doubling the current Javelin production rate from 2,100 per year to just under 4,000 by 2026, working alongside American defense contractor Raytheon.

India and the US have been discussing several products. As the EurAsian Times earlier reported, there has been a proposal to jointly produce Stryker armored vehicles. After the limited off-the-shelf purchase of Strykers through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route, the joint production will be in India. So far, none of the deals have reached the execution stage.

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Indian firm Larsen and Toubro has established a joint venture with the French MBDA to develop missiles and weapon systems in India. The two will develop and supply fifth-generation anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM5s), missiles for coastal batteries, and high-speed target drones.

The prototype was showcased at DefExpo in Chennai as ATGM-5. Plans are being made to produce it in India with a complete technology transfer. The foreign vendor is also ready to support the Indian development of an upgraded ATGM-5 with a much longer range of 10 km. It will be configured to be fired from ground-based and aerial platforms.

FGM-148 Javelin
File Image: FGM-148 Javelin

Indian Army’s Quest For Firepower

The Indian Army has been systematically looking to enhance its firepower to match its East and West adversaries. In June 2023, it floated an RFI for the acquisition of 5,000 fire-and-forget missiles and 500 launcher systems to be mounted on license-built BMP-2/2K ‘Sarath’ Infantry Combat Vehicles.

The RFI specifies that the ATGMs should be capable of top and direct attack modes. They should be less than 1.25 m in length, 25 kg in weight, and have a 125 mm caliber. The missiles should fire at a minimum range of 200 m and 1,100 m for direct and top attack modes, respectively, and at a maximum range of more than 5 km.

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The Indian Army requires the ATGMs to penetrate at least 650 mm rolled homogeneous armor equivalent (RHAe) and explosive reactive armor (ERA). They should also be equipped with day and night dual-mode seekers, wireless guidance systems, interchangeable anti-armour warheads with impact fuze, or multi-purpose anti-armor, blast-penetration, and high explosive warheads with air-burst fuse.

The ATGMs will be used to destroy enemy tanks, armored personnel carriers (APCs), combat vehicles, low-flying helicopters, and other ground-based weapon platforms along the line of actual control (LAC) with China and the western border with Pakistan, the RFI added.

The Indian Army’s ATGM capabilities are deterrence against any Chinese incursion into the Chicken’s Neck region along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). At the beginning of 2024, the Indian Army conducted an extensive demonstration of its ATGM capabilities in Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh, an Indian state claimed by China in its entirety.

The Indian Army currently has a French-made MILAN 2T ATGM for light anti-armor warfare. The second-generation missile can destroy mobile targets up to a range of 2 kilometers. Another ATGM widely used by the Indian Army is the 9M133 Kornet system. It is a Russian-made ATGM deployed against heavy armor.

The Army also possesses a large stockpile of 9M113 Konkurs weapon systems. In NATO circles, these Russian-made SACLOS wire-guided anti-tank missiles are popularly known as ‘AT-5 Spandrel’.

India also has an indigenous third-generation ATGM developed by the DRDO. It uses infrared homing and millimetric wave active-radar homing technologies to zero in on the target. Nag has three versions: a vehicle-mounted version (based on the Namica launcher), a heliborne version (HeliNa), and a man-portable version (MP-ATGM).

  • Ritu Sharma has been a journalist for over a decade, writing on defense, foreign affairs, and nuclear technology.
  • The author can be reached at ritu.sharma (at)
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