Lockheed celebrates Javelin milestone

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 1, 2001

Staff Writer

Those involved with Javelin celebrated a milestone on Friday.

At Lockheed Martin Pike County Operations, the 5,000th Javelin was rolled off the assembly line.

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Javelin is a 50-pound, man-portable, medium antitank weapon system that can be fired from the shoulder and is lethal to all known and projected threat armor.

"Today is a very special day," said Rick Edwards, Javelin Program director of Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control-Orlando.

More than five years after production began on the Javelin, the 5,000th missile was rolled off the assembly line and that momentous occasion was recognized with a special ceremony and luncheon on Friday.

Edwards lauded the Pike County facility as "without a doubt the best missile-producing facility."

Stan Arthur, president of Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control-Orlando, expressed his appreciation to Team Javelin and the pride he feels in being "a part of that team."

In addition to those in Pike County who are assembling the missile, Team Javelin includes 23 companies which produce different parts of the product.

Paul Walker, president of Javelin Joint Venture, said Team Javelin is "truly a team that spans the entire country."

Arthur called Lockheed Martin Pike County Operations "a shining star" and a "quality operation with quality people."

He also praised those in the armed forces who put the Javelin into action.

"We’re proud of our customers, who have to go out and do the work for our country," Arthur said. "Hopefully, it (Javelin) will never fly in harm’s way, but if it does, there will be a kill at the other end and that’s what it’s all about."

Col. John Weinzettle of the Javelin Program Office with the United States Army, said Javelin, if produced 10 years ago, would have made a real difference in Dessert Storm because the missile "gives the soldier the fire power of a tank."

The Javelin employs imaging infared focal plane array technology and gives a soldier or Marine state-of-the-art antitank weapon that will allow him to defeat numerically superior forces at extended ranges under any conditions.

After Javelin’s gunner acquires the target and fires the missile, the infared seeker guides it to the target with pinpoint accuracy, leaving the gunner free to seek cover, move to a new position, assess battlefield damage or reload and fire again. The lethal warhead penetrates both conventional and reactive armor.

What began several years ago as a challenge to produce the Javelin has become the ability to deliver 400 per month, Walker said.

U.S. Rep. Terry Everett, who represents the Second Congressional District, talked about the units outfitted with the Javelin in his keynote address.

"The Javelin is making a real difference," Everett said, adding it gives the military quick, lethal force and "heavy fire power in a lightweight form."

To those working to assemble the deadly missile, Everett said, "We’re moving in the right direction and you are the ones responsible for that. You have every reason to be proud of this product."

Everett said "we’re all praying for peace," but if the occasion arises,soldiers will be ready with the Javelin.

The United States Army was first equipped with the Javelin in June 1996 and the first Marine Corps unit in August 1999. Under current contracts, more than 16,000 additional Javelins will roll off the production line.