The Fire Support Group of Yankee Company, 45 Commando Royal Marines have let rip with the next-generation light anti tank weapon. The Arbroath-based green berets missed out on the chance for live firing back in the spring because they were deployed with HMS Bulwark rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean.
Six months later and their chance came at Otterburn ranges, outside Newcastle, and a week of non-stop firepower, beginning with machine-guns and ending with some tankbusting. However, as impressive as two gun lines of machine-guns hammering away are, the party piece of Exercise Black Storm was some live missile firing – three NLAWs, one Javelin.
Javelin can knock out enemy armour at four times the distance (about 2,500 metres or 1½ miles) of the smaller NLAW (Next-generation Light Anti-tank Weapon) anti-tank missile.
Marine Danny Dugan was selected to fire the ‘Jav’ in front of a large crowd of soldiers and marines: «There was a gasp of shock when the missile left the launcher and started curving off to the left – only for a sigh of relief to hit as the missile curled back towards the target after taking a dogleg».
«There was a gasp of shock when the missile left the launcher and started curving off to the left – only for a sigh of relief to hit as the missile curled back towards the target after taking a dogleg,” said Marine Kev MacNeish. «Everyone was buzzing».
The lighter NLAWs are only effective at tanks closer than 600 metres – under 2,000 feet – and can be fired directly into the target, or can climb and plunge into the turret from above, known as ‘top attack’.
Marine MacNeish added: «All the fire support group had been looking forward to getting some valuable trigger time. This was a hoofing week and everyone left with high morale».