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US-Kosovo Javelin Anti-Tank Missiles Deal Ignites Serbian Disapproval.

| Defense News Army 2024

The United States Department of Defense's announcement on January 11, 2023, regarding a potential Foreign Military Sale to the Republic of Kosovo, has disappointed the Serbian Government. Valued at approximately $75 million, the proposed sale includes Javelin anti-tank guided missile weapons and associated equipment, intended to bolster Kosovo's defense capabilities. However, this move has been met with stern disapproval from Serbia, further complicating the delicate geopolitical dynamics in the Balkans.
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U.S. soldier prepares to fire a Javelin missile launcher at oncoming tanks during a Military Training Exercise. (Picture source U.S. DoD)

Serbia, which does not recognize Kosovo's 2008 declaration of independence, views the United States' decision to arm Kosovo as a direct threat to regional stability and balance. Serbian officials have voiced their concerns, stating that the influx of advanced military technology into Kosovo could escalate tensions and potentially lead to increased militarization in the region.

The Republic of Kosovo has expressed its intention to acquire an arsenal comprising two hundred forty-six (246) Javelin FGM-148F missiles, which also includes six (6) fly-to-buy missiles. Additionally, the deal encompasses twenty-four (24) Javelin Lightweight Command Launch Units (LWCLU).

This comprehensive package extends beyond mere weaponry. It includes an array of training and support equipment: Javelin LWCLU Basic Skills Trainers, Javelin Outdoor Trainers, Missile Simulation Rounds, Outdoor Training Instructor Stations (OTIS), and Battery Coolant Units (BCUs). Also part of the deal are System Integration and Check out (SICO), Life Cycle Support (LCS), and a Javelin Restricted Interactive Electronic Technical Manual (IETM).

Further emphasizing the holistic nature of this support, the package also offers a Javelin Operator Manual, Technical Assistance (TAGM), specialized tools, and extensive training programs. These training modules cover Javelin gunner training, Ammunition Technical Officer (ATO) training, and Javelin maintenance training, ensuring that the Kosovo defense forces are well-prepared to operate and maintain this advanced weaponry effectively.

The Javelin is an advanced anti-tank missile system, renowned for its fire-and-forget capability, which allows the operator to fire and immediately relocate or take cover. Utilizing an infrared imaging seeker, the Javelin missile locks onto its target before launch, and its self-guiding system ensures accurate targeting even in adverse weather or battlefield conditions. This portable system, which can be operated by a single individual or a two-person crew, is capable of defeating modern tanks by attacking them from above, where their armor is weakest, and is effective against various other targets, including fortifications and low-flying aircraft.

In terms of range, the Javelin has a substantial reach, allowing engagement of targets from a distance, thereby increasing the safety of the operator. Its effective firing range varies between 2,500 meters to potentially over 4,000 meters, depending on the model and operational conditions. This long-range capability, combined with its precision and reliability, makes the Javelin not only a formidable anti-tank weapon but also a versatile tool capable of engaging a variety of targets at significant distances. This versatility is enhanced by the system's ability to be deployed quickly and operated in diverse environments, from open fields to urban settings, making it a key asset for ground forces in a wide range of combat scenarios.

Serbia's objection to this sale underscores the longstanding disputes and fragile relations between Serbia and Kosovo. The Serbian government has repeatedly expressed its commitment to resolving issues with Kosovo through dialogue and peaceful means. However, the prospect of Kosovo enhancing its military capabilities with U.S. support has raised fears in Belgrade that this could undermine efforts towards reconciliation and peace in the region.

The United States, on the other hand, views this military assistance as a crucial step in supporting Kosovo's sovereignty and self-defense capabilities. U.S. officials have emphasized that the sale is consistent with their foreign policy objectives in Europe and is aimed at promoting stability and peace in the Balkans.

As the situation unfolds, international observers and stakeholders in the region are closely monitoring the developments. The potential U.S. military sale to Kosovo, while aimed at bolstering defense, has inadvertently heightened tensions between Kosovo and Serbia, posing a challenge to regional peace and stability. Diplomatic efforts are expected to intensify to address the concerns raised by Serbia and to ensure that the situation does not escalate further.

Defense News January 2024

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