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The Javelin is a relatively new weapon, designed to replace the M47 Dragon wire-guided anti-tank missile. The Javelin uses an infrared fire-and-forget system, allowing the user to lock on, fire a missile, and move to a new position. The weapon has two firing modes, the more commonly used top-down attack profile, which flies upwards to a height of approximately 150m before descending upon the target, and a direct-fire profile in which the missile flies in a much flatter trajectory towards the target.
It uses a "soft-launch" arrangement where the missile is boosted out of the tube for a short distance before firing its rocket engine, minimizing backblast and allowing fire from confined spaces. The launch tube is a pre-loaded disposable component separate from the Command Launch Unit (CLU), which is the reusable acquisition and firing control unit. The launch tube is attached and detached from the CLU via a locking hinge system.
The weapon was tested on the armor of the M1 Abrams and is supposed to defeat any modern tank armor including reactive armor, by first firing an explosive to trigger the reactive armor, then firing a secondary shaped charge explosive to penetrate the armor, damaging critical systems or injuring or killing the vehicle's occupants.