Javelin Anti-Tank missiles may be decimating Russian armored vehicles attempting to close in on Kyiv, and they may be using an effective strategy to shut down or close off key “intersections” or “choke points” vital to any Russian advance. They may also been disabling or destroying key supply lines necessary for the Russian force to sustain any kind of advance.
On Feb 28th, CNN’s Mathew Chance described video shots of a column of destroyed Russian armored vehicles in what looked like an attempt to cross a bridge. There were fallen soldiers and burnt and destroyed Russian vehicles in the video, in an area which looked like a bridge or narrow point of entry.
Javelin Anti-Tank Missiles
While the exact weapons used to destroy these vehicles may not be known for obvious security reasons, the destruction to the vehicles may have been caused by Javelins.
Experienced Iraqi war commanders do say that Javelins can destroy tanks and have been used in the past. At the same time, it could certainly be possible that that kind of damage to armored vehicles could also be caused by artillery or missiles fired from helicopters or aircraft.
Most artillery systems, however, are challenged to hit moving targets and often used as “area” weapons to destroy fixed areas and enable troops to maneuver with the cover of suppressive fire. However, precision-guided artillery does exist now, and some emerging artillery weapons have shown an ability in testing to hit moving targets with laser-guidance, Ukrainian forces may not have advanced precision-artillery systems.
Javelins, however, or air-fired missiles such as a HELLFIRE, are able to destroy moving vehicles trying to cross a bridge. Certainly small arms fire of any kind would not be able to destroy a small column of advancing armored vehicles.
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It would make sense if Ukrainian forces were ambushing or closing off chokepoints or passageways crucial to a Russian attack given that it might be a way that a smaller number of well-armed soldiers with anti-tank missiles could potentially inflict a devastating combat impact without necessarily using tanks or heavy vehicles.
Interestingly, the concept of hitting “intersections and chokepoints” was described to Warrior by a former US Army Infantry Task Force Commander who led units which destroyed the Iraqi Republican Guard near the Baghdad Airport in 2003 during the opening invasion.
Retired Lt. Col. Scott Rutter told Warrior in a interview that, during his units attack on the Iraqi Republican Guard, enemy forces did have some marginal success trying to control or “shut down” intersections. At the beginning of the Russian invasion, Rutter told Warrior he anticipated that Ukrainian forces would use these kinds of tactics to stop a Russian advance. He may have been correct, at least when it comes to what the CNN video looks like.
“I think it's almost going to be like what the Republican Guard attempted to do to us as we were moving up, which was to try to find key terrain and key intersections to disrupt the formations. The Iraqis were a little bit effective. As we were moving up on key intersections, they tried to hold those intersections to destroy, disrupt and delay. That is probably what the Ukrainians are going to attempt to do,” Rutter added.
A narrow area vehicles have to transit through, or urban areas between buildings, would seem to leave armored vehicles vulnerable to Javelin fire or destruction from other kinds of air-and-ground based anti-tank weapons.
This phenomenon may prove to be of even greater significance should Russian forces close in on urban areas, as buildings and narrow streets could offer Javelin armed dismounted units to attack armored vehicles from hidden or more “obscured” locations.
While there may be other weapons being used which are not being discussed for obvious security reasons, the Pentagon has been clear about its move to send Javelins. Javelins may be now proving to be a crucial factor in stopping Russian attacks and giving new life to the Ukrainian fighters.