While on a mission a few years ago, Matthew Nikiel’s Special Operations unit was tasked with forming a blocking position to prevent enemy forces from approaching. A sandstorm complicated any air support, but two enemy tanks appeared on the horizon. His team fired two Javelin missiles simultaneously and immediately headed back to cover four kilometers away. In their rear-view mirror laid the burning hulks of the two neutralized enemy tanks.
Their mission would not have been possible without Javelin’s fire-and-forget technology and its one-person portable light weight.
Developed and produced by the Javelin Joint Venture, a partnership of Raytheon Missiles & Defense and Lockheed Martin, Javelin has become a fixture for the armed forces in its more than two decades of performance to the U.S. military and 19 allied countries.
Adding to its accolades, the program team delivered its 50,000th missile to the customer on Aug. 12, 2021.
Those deliveries were made possible thanks to Lockheed Martin employees like Tommy Coates and Linda Griffin, who have served on the Javelin program for decades.
A program veteran since its inception, Linda currently supports Javelin’s Thermal Compression bonding, where she fuses ribbon cables together, completing electrical paths for circuitry on the missile. Linda has worked on the missile during various other stages of production, such as loading, hot melting, reworking and continuity.
With siblings who have served in the armed forces, Linda knows the importance her role plays.
“I’m proud to have been a part of Javelin to allow protection for our soldiers,” she said. “It’s significant because our job is to make them perfect each and every time because you want to see family members come back home.”
Tommy, a manufacturing engineer, joined the program 18 years ago and works as a problem solver on the technical team.
“The thing about Javelin that I think about is consistency,” he said. “We’ve always been consistent, all the way back to Block 0.”
Not many people who work in manufacturing get to see their hard work in action as it fires down a missile range. Tommy gets the satisfaction of watching the missile perform this way and knows it means it will perform as designed to protect his customers.
He said he’s heard heart-warming stories of soldiers using Javelin in real-life battle situations and how it saved their lives.
“If a soldier were to need that weapon, if that he fired it, it’d work and could possibly save his life in that situation – it makes me feel very good to know that I have a small part in that,” he said. “We all have that same mindset when we come in to work every day that we’re doing it for someone else.”
One of those end users was Matthew Nikiel, the soldier whose unit took on two enemy tanks with Javelin missiles. Matthew now works for Lockheed Martin in International Business Development.
“We are proud to have delivered the capability he needed to complete his mission and come home safely,” said Javelin Joint Venture Vice President Dave Pantano.
Javelin has supported U.S. and international allies in the field for years, through more than 5,000 firings in combat.
“Javelin continues to be the premier anti-tank guided missile for both the U.S. and its international partners,” Matthew said. “A single person can throw it on their shoulder and carry it anywhere, giving a small team a capability to destroy a tank while also being able to quickly maneuver. The 50,000th delivery shows it’s extremely dependable and lethal.”
In 2020, the Javelin Joint Venture produced its first Javelin F-Model.
“Anticipated to be in the U.S. military’s operational inventory through 2050, Javelin will continue to evolve with customer needs,” said Dave. “The delivery of the 50,000th missile is adding to the weapon system’s already impressive legacy.”