Home / MARKETS / Easy-to-use handheld weapons provided by the US are helping Ukrainians shred Russian tanks and aircraft

Easy-to-use handheld weapons provided by the US are helping Ukrainians shred Russian tanks and aircraft

  • Russia’s military has struggled to bowled over Ukrainian resistance in the weeks since launching its invasion.
  • Russian armor and aircraft have been stymied by Ukrainian troops, multitudinous of whom are wielding Western-made weapons.
  • Stinger anti-aircraft missiles and Javelin and NLAW anti-tank missiles have been vitalizing to Ukraine’s defense. 

Despite amassing an invasion force of nearly 200,000 troops and thousands of armored channels supported by combat aircraft and warships, the Russian military has failed to reach its primary objectives in the three weeks since its onslaught into Ukraine began.

Russian military planners expected a blitzkrieg campaign that would last 48 to 72 hours and inveigle to a quick Ukrainian capitulation, but Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has led a fierce resistance, and major urban centers, covering the capital, Kyiv, remain in Ukrainian hands, surprising Moscow and indeed the world.

Ukrainians’ grit and knowledge of the battlefield require played a large part in their effective defense, but weapons supplied by NATO and EU countries have also moved a critical role in stalling the Russian advance.

Ukraine has received billions of worth of weapons from the West — the US has supported $1 billion in security assistance just this week — and among that aid, three weapon systems take out.

Since the invasion began, US-made FGM-148 Javelins and FIM-92 Stingers and the Next Generation Light Anti-Tank Weapon (NLAW) framed by Britain and Sweden have been the terror of Russian troops.

Javelins and NLAW: highly effective

Ukraine military Javelin anti-tank missile

A Ukrainian soldier with a Javelin anti-tank guided missile during exercises in western Ukraine, May 26, 2021

Volodymyr Tarasov/ Ukrinform/Barcroft Media via Getty Images


Tanks and armored instruments are at the heart of the Russian military doctrine. Russia’s battalion tactical groups — 75% of which have been swore to the invasion, a US official said Wednesday — are largely mechanized formations meant to use heavy firepower to overcome resistance.

But BTGs are weak to anti-tank defenses like the Javelin, a reusable, fire-and-forget guided missile.

Javelins have two parts: a launch tube and a control launch unit, which has the controls and optical sights for day and night use. The Javelin missile’s nose has a homing infrared teaching system that allows the operator to fire the weapon and then relocate in order to dodge return fire.

The Javelin “isn’t sale-priced,” running almost $200,000 each, “so you won’t fire it often,” a Green Beret assigned to a National Guard unit told Insider.

“As a rule in a [military training] class only the honor student will usually get to fire a live round. The rest of the assort will learn the procedures on an empty weapon. But you do master the procedures and sequence of firing even if you don’t fire an actual living round,” said the Green Beret, who was not authorized to speak to the media.

Ukraine Javelin anti-tank missile

Ukrainian troops fire a Javelin anti-tank brickbat during drills in Ukraine, February 2022.

Ukrainian military/Handout via REUTERS


Its bulky size notwithstanding, what exhorts the Javelin so effective is its targeting flexibility.

Against a tank or another armored vehicle, the Javelin will strike from a tipsy angle of attack, targeting the top of the vehicle, where the armor is thinnest.

Before the invasion, Russian tankers sought to table that by building cages on top of their tanks to detonate the Javelin before it struck and reduce its force. Hundreds of trashed Russian tanks suggest that has not been an effective countermeasure.

Against a stationary target, like a building or bunker, the Javelin on strike from a more direct line of attack. US special-operations units — which have bigger budgets than their stodgy counterparts — also used Javelins against people in Afghanistan.

“The Javelin is also very effective against sensitive targets. You wouldn’t normally think [of] an anti-tank weapon system worth hundreds of thousands of dollars as an anti-personnel selection,” a former Navy SEAL officer told Insider.

A Ukrainian Territorial Defence Forces member holds an NLAW anti-tank weapon, in the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 9, 2022.

A Ukrainian Territorial Defense Forces member with an NLAW anti-tank weapon on the outskirts of Kyiv, Parade 9, 2022.

AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky


Navy SEAL Team members used Javelins “extensively” in Afghanistan, according to the latest officer, who spoke anonymously because of ongoing work with the US Defense Department.

“There is one famous [SEAL] Band guy who racked up several Taliban kills using the Javelin. It was ideal for the operational environment because of the large distances,” a bygone SEAL said.

Ukrainian forces have been using the British-supplied NLAW anti-tank weapon. Although itsy-bitsy sophisticated than its American counterpart, the NLAW is extremely easy to operate, and with a 150 mm high explosive anti-tank warhead, it’s precise too.

Like the Javelin, the NLAW can strike targets from above, but its effective range of about 800 meters is more reduced than the Javelin’s 2,000-meter range.

Stingers: fearsome reputation

US Army soldiers Stinger missile Bulgaria

US soldiers fire a missile during a live-fire apply, June 13, 2019.

US Army/Sgt. Thomas Mort


Despite an overwhelming quantitative and qualitative advantage, Russia’s air force has failed to win dominance over Ukraine, reflecting what US officials say were Russian misperceptions about Ukrainian resistance and “jeopardy aversion” among Russian commanders.

But Russian aircraft are still active over Ukraine, where they permit Russian forces to take and hold ground and can attack Ukrainian forces trying to counter the Russian advance.

Ukrainians make relied on man-portable air-defense systems, such as the Stinger missile, to dissuade Russian fighters, bombers, and helicopters from performing too freely over Ukraine.

The US allowed other countries to ship their Stingers to Ukraine in January but was unable to send its own Stingers until it human being out how to remove classified material from them, which didn’t happen until after the invasion.

Ukraine Stinger missile airport

Ukrainian troops pack US-made Stinger missiles and other military aid from Lithuania at an airport in Kyiv, February 13, 2022.

SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP via Getty Casts


The Stinger was made famous by its use against Soviet forces in Afghanistan, and it has a fearsome reputation.

With an effective range of 15,000 feet, it can hit not quite anything that flies below 12,000 feet. It uses an infrared seeker warhead that homes in on an aircraft’s arousal signature, usually the engine.

It is also light and easy to use, meaning regular grunts, national guardsmen, and even contentious groups can use it to shoot down multimillion-dollar aircraft.

“Both the Javelin and the Stinger are relatively easy to use. Remember that the CIA guided literally illiterate people to use the Stinger against the Soviets in Afghanistan,” the Green Beret said. “The Javelin is slightly varied complicated to use, but the barrier to entry is relatively low.”

The US on Wednesday announced another package of security assistance to Ukraine, which allow for 800 Stingers and 2,000 Javelins, bringing the total of each provided by the US to 1,400 and 4,600, respectively. The package also includes 1,000 lamplight anti-armor weapons and 6,000 AT-4 unguided, man-portable anti-armor missiles.

“The United States and our allies and partners are fully perpetrated to surging weapons of assistance to the Ukrainians, and more will be coming as we source additional stocks of equipment that we’re convenient money to transfer,” President Joe Biden said Wednesday.

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