Difference Between Javelin And NLAW Anti-tank Missiles



The Javelin is a medium-range anti-tank guided missile developed by Javelin, a joint venture between Raytheon and Lockheed Martin. The missile is currently in service with the US Forces and has been combat-tested in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Javelin is considered the world’s best shoulder-fired anti-tank weapon and 12 nations currently operate the Javelin under foreign military sales from the US. Each missile weighs 11.8kg while its command launch unit (CLU) and round weigh 6.4kg and 15.9kg respectively.

The Javelin employs a long-wave infrared (LWIR) seeker for guidance to destroy tanks, bunkers, buildings, small vessel and low-speed helicopters with a high hit probability. It can also be fired from tripods, light armoured vehicles, trucks, and remotely piloted vehicles. It carries a tandem shaped charge, enabling a maximum range of 2,500m.

NLAW (Next Generation Light Anti-tank Weapon)

The next generation light anti-tank weapon (NLAW) developed by Saab Bofors Dynamics is the first ever non-expert short-range anti-tank missile system operable by an individual soldier. The NLAW is in service with the armed forces of the UK, Finland, Luxembourg and Sweden.

Each missile launch unit weighs just 12.5kg, enabling one-man-portability in confined spaces. The NLAW weapon system approaches the target guided by predicted line-of-sight (PLOS). It employs overfly top attack (OTA) mode for tanks and other armoured targets while direct attack (DA) mode is used for non-armoured targets.

The single shape charge warhead of the NLAW has been designed to defeat modern MBTs fitted with ERA. The missile requires just five seconds of preparation time and is compatible with night-vision goggles and clip-on night-vision devices. The combat range of the NLAW is between 20m and 600m.

Key Difference

  1. NLAWs have a range of up to 600m, while the Javelin has a maximum effective range of up to 2500m. 
  2. Javelin works by use of infrared technology, wherein the missile locks onto any heat signature present in the tanks. NLAW missiles use “predictive line of sight” technology. The guidance package calculates both the distance to the target and the target’s speed (if its mobile), and guides itself to the predicted location. 
  3. Javelins have a complex design and are much more expensive than NLAWs.
  4. In the case of both the NLAW and Javelin, the warhead detonates upon impact with a hard object. 
  5. The NLAW and Javelin missiles are designed to hit a tank from above in a “top attack” – striking at the top of the tank’s turret where the armour is thinnest. 
  6. NLAW is simple in design; disposable and has smaller missile than Javelin. Javelin is complex in design and non-disposable.