The Fort Carson-based 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team (2SBCT), 4th Infantry Division on Thursday conducted a live-firing exercise, testing out a familiar weapons system with a new capability.
The FGM-148 Javelin, an American-made portable anti-tank missile system, has been in service since 1996. But the traditionally shoulder-fired missile was recently formatted to fit atop the Stryker armored vehicle with a stabilized mount called the Common Remote Operated Weapon Station-Javelin, or CROWS-J.
The weapon has been a key asset in Ukraine’s resistance against invading Russian forces, earning it the nickname “St. Javelin.”
The 2SBCT is the first U.S. Army brigade of its kind to be outfitted with the CROWS-J, which enables the Javelin to be aimed and engaged while on the move and allows soldiers to fire it from the safety of the armored vehicle.
Infantry officer Capt. Jacob Poag said Thursday’s testing was the culmination of a yearlong modernization process for the brigade.
“With the addition of the CROWS-J system, we are the most modernized Stryker unit in the United States military,” Poag said. “With the testing happening today, we are essentially validating ourselves as the most lethal.”
The Javelin, a “fire-and-forget” missile system that uses infrared technology to guide it to the target, typically attacks enemy tanks by hitting them from above, where the armor is thinnest. The missile is about 3 1/2 feet long, weighs nearly 50 pounds, and is accurate out to 8,200 feet, according to Army officials.
On Thursday, the 2SBCT fired 10 Javelin missiles from the CROWS-J system atop the Stryker, aiming at both short- and long-range targets — old tank hulls that were artificially heated to provide contrast between the targets and the surrounding area. Crews were rotated between firings to maximize the number of soldiers with live-fire experience.
“The desktop training systems inside the Stryker allow us to simulate firing the weapon,” Poag said. “But it’s always better to fire the real thing. There are portions of the training that you just can’t get from simulations.”
Spc. Jarett Vermeis, a brigade gunner, said he was excited to participate in a live exercise.
“It felt really intense, but I felt safe doing it (from inside the vehicle),” Vermeis said. “It felt powerful.”
The missiles were fired in sets of two so crews could practice firing the weapon, quickly loading another missile into the CROWS-J, and firing again. The turnaround time between launches was about two minutes, but over the coming weeks the soldiers will train to cut that time down, Poag said.
President Joe Biden has sent some U.S. troops to Europe to reinforce NATO allies that border Ukraine, but officials said the 2nd Brigade Combat Team has no immediate plans to deploy.
“There’s a demand for the Strykers with anti-tank capability all across the world,” Poag said. “No matter what the location, we’re just trying to be the most ready brigade possible to go out and deploy these weapons systems. It’s super important that we train on it and are ready to deploy it wherever the nation calls us.”
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