Ukrainian soldiers have been using deadly tank buster weapons which were made in Fife in their fight against Russia.
Troops in Ukraine have been firing the Javelin missile – also used by Black Watch soldiers to deadly effect in the killing fields of Afghanistan – at invading armoured vehicles.
For the people of Ukraine, the weapon – partially made in Fife by Raytheon – has become a vivid symbol of resistance and is crucial to Ukraine’s defence against Russia’s ongoing invasion.
‘Fire and forget missile’
It is believed parts of the Command Launch Unit (CLU) – which guides the missile – is made at Raytheon UK, which employs around 600 people in Glenrothes.
An experienced soldier – who once served with the Rifles regiment but now works with UK Special Forces – used the Javelin weapon in Afghanistan against the Taliban.
The lance corporal from Perthshire – who we’ve decided not to name – served in Iraq, Kosovo and Afghanistan.
The Javelin is a ‘fire and forget’ missile – you can fire it and then get out of the way of enemy fire and the missile will still find the target.”
Lance corporal from Perthshire
He said: “The Javelin is a ‘fire and forget’ missile – you can fire it and then get out of the way of enemy fire and the missile will still find the target.
“It doesn’t need further guidance after launch such as illumination of the target or wire guidance like the old Milan missiles.
“It can be fired from within a building so it is well suited to an urban environment that you might find in Ukraine.”
The Javelin weapon system – supplied to Ukrainian troops by the UK and the US – has become so popular in Ukraine that it has been turned into a meme.
An iconic image of St Javelin of Ukraine has gone viral on social media. One image shows her with a halo in the blue and yellow of the Ukrainian flag.
Her flowing robes are green like army fatigues while her hands cradle a Javelin anti-tank missile launcher.
Our Javelin missile expert works with fellow special forces comrades at Stoic Events offering SAS selection style experiences to corporate clients in rural Perthshire.
He added: “It is a bit like a computer games console with a command launch unit or CLU which locates the target and moves the crosshairs.
“The CLU or parts of it are probably made in Scotland as the missiles were made in the US and cost about £60,000 or £70,000 a pop.
“It has very good night vision and thermal imaging capabilities which can pick up heat sources. We also used the CLU to track targets and for surveillance and reconnaissance.”
In late February, Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar announced that Ukraine had destroyed around 80 Russian tanks, 10 aircraft, 7 helicopters, and 516 armoured combat vehicles.
— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) February 25, 2022
None of that would have been possible without the Javelin, according to experts.
Originally designed in the US in the late 80s in the midst of the Cold War, the weapon was created to be a bulwark in a land war in Europe against an enemy fielding a massive amount of tanks.
Soldiers target the enemy with the detachable CLU and launch the self-propelled missile. Once launched, the missile shoots high up into the air at an angle with the goal of getting above the target and crashing down into it from above.
The missile is a high-explosive anti-tank (Heat) round that devastates most armour. The weapon was used by Black Watch troops in Afghanistan as they battled the Taliban.
Previously Raytheon has been slammed for supplying the missile system to Saudi Arabia.
Last year, the firm was criticised by Campaign Against Arms Trade Scotland for providing the weapons to the regime for its campaign in Yemen.
It is believed that another weapons system part-made by Raytheon in Fife, currently in operation with the Saudi forces, is the TOW missile which has also been supplied to Ukrainian soldiers.
Former US Marine Colonel Mark Cancian is a senior advisor with the international security program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
He said: “Javelins are relatively easy to learn how to use and don’t need a lot of maintenance. Thus, they are well-suited for delivery to a military that has not used them before.”
The news that the Javelin was central to Ukrainian war efforts was welcomed by Conservative MSP for Mid-Scotland and Fife, Murdo Fraser.
He said: “This is an important local industry and it’s great to see that it’s now playing a part in the vital defence of Ukraine.
“In Fife – and across Scotland – we are home to some of the best defence manufacturing in the world.”
Both Raytheon and the MoD remained tightlipped about the role of the Javelin in Ukraine.
The UK and our allies and partners are working hard to provide Ukraine with vital support.”
Our inquiry to Raytheon was passed to the MoD.
A Raytheon spokeswoman said: “Whilst we really appreciate your interest, we will have to decline your request as the relevant governments have requested any questions are directed to them regarding these types of systems.”
An MoD spokeswoman said: “The UK and our allies and partners are working hard to provide Ukraine with vital support.”