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Raytheon anti-tank missile battles Russian invasion of Ukraine

The Boston Globe logo The Boston Globe 3/15/2022 Aaron Pressman
Equipment and munitions provided by the United States, including nearly 300 Javelin anti-tank missiles, arrives at the airport in Boryspil, just outside Kyiv, in January. © BRENDAN HOFFMAN Equipment and munitions provided by the United States, including nearly 300 Javelin anti-tank missiles, arrives at the airport in Boryspil, just outside Kyiv, in January.

Amid the terrible toll of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Boston’s local tech scene has been called on to help.

Aid has come from companies such as software developers AirSlate and DataRobot, which employ hundreds of programmers in Ukraine, as well as individuals. My former colleague, Pranshu Verma, wrote about VC and Soviet refugee Semyon Dukach, who went to Romania to hand out money to people escaping the war. DataRobot’s chief information security officer, Andrew Smeaton, drove a colleague out of Ukraine himself. And some Boston-based companies have even deeper ties — cybersecurity firm SOC Prime’s Ukrainian chief executive Andrii Bezverkhyi lived in Kyiv and had to flee for his life.

But there’s another tech company aiding in the effort to turn back the Russians — and rather more directly. Raytheon Technologies, along with partner Lockheed Martin, makes the Javelin anti-tank missile that has become one of the most important weapons in the fight.

The shoulder-fired missile dates to the 1990s, originally developed by a joint venture between units of Texas Instruments and Martin Marietta, which have since been acquired by Raytheon and Lockheed Martin. These days, Raytheon makes the brains of the Javelin, including the 15-pound reusable command launch unit that connects to the disposable missile launch tubes and helps the user pick a target and fire.


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You may recall the subject of Javelins being sold to Ukraine from a certain presidential phone call that led to the first impeachment of Donald Trump. As Trump threatened to withhold military aid unless Ukraine investigated Joe Biden, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said his country wanted “to buy more Javelins from the United States for defense purposes.”

Ultimately, Ukraine got more Javelins and other equipment from the US and NATO allies in the run up to the Russian invasion. With the Russians relying heavily on armored vehicles and tanks, the Javelins have been a prime feature of the Ukrainian defense. On Friday, the Ukrainian Armed Forces tweeted several pictures of Javelins in use on the battlefield and the remains of a Russian armored vehicle they said was destroyed by a Javelin.

The latest aid bill passed by Congress will send more Javelins to Ukraine, no doubt boosting orders to restock the weapon in the arsenal of the US. The invasion is also prompting European countries, starting with Germany, to increase their defense spending. Raytheon’s stock price is up 5 percent since the invasion began on Feb. 24. The company declined to comment, though Morgan Stanley analyst Kristine Liwag sees even bigger gains ahead.

“The US and NATO allies in Europe continue to deliver anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons to Ukraine and look to replenish stocks,” she wrote. “We continue to see the ongoing conflict placing upward pressure on (foreign military sales) and see Raytheon as best positioned.”

If the Ukrainians ultimately turn back the invasion, Raytheon’s Javelin could take the spotlight the same way the Stinger anti-aircraft missile got credit for helping force the Soviets out of Afghanistan. That was made by Raytheon, too.

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