UK to provide Starstreak man-portable air defense missile systems to Ukraine

During the NATO Defence Ministers that was held on March 16, 2022, in Brussels, the British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has announced that the United Kingdom (UK) will continue to supply military equipment and weapons to Ukraine. The British Defence Secretary highlighted that the UK would be providing Starstreak, a high-velocity anti-aircraft missile system, that complements the other military aid provided by the UK Armed Forces, including over 4,000 anti-tank missiles.
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The Starstreak HVM (High Velocity Missile) is designed to counter threats from very high performance, low-flying aircraft, and fast 'pop up' strikes by helicopter attacks. (Picture source British MoD)

The UK (United Kingdom) has recently bolstered its military commitments in Eastern Europe including doubling the number of troops in Estonia, committing HMS Trent and HMS Diamond to the Eastern Mediterranean, and providing air policing over Romania and Poland with RAF fast jets from the UK and RAF Akrotiri.

On March 9, 2022, Army Recognition reported that the United Kingdom had a plan to send Starstreak's short-range surface-to-air defense missile system to Ukraine in support of Ukraine following the Russian invasion.

The Starstreak is a short-range man-portable air-defense system (MANPADS) manufactured by the British subdivision of Thales in the United Kingdom. It is also known as Starstreak HVM (High Velocity Missile).

The Startreak configuration is based on the proven principles of high velocity to defeat targets with short unmasking times. The three dart payload maximizes levels of lethality and accurate line of sight; laser beam riding guidance enables engagement of the smallest signature targets, which are extremely difficult to defeat and lock onto by traditional fire and forget missiles.

The Starstreak weapon system consists of a Lightweight Multiple Launcher (LML) that can be fitted with up to three missiles to enable multiple targets to be quickly engaged, one after the other. The LML is also equipped with a standard aiming point with IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) and Thales ASPIC automatic fire control system. The system is prepared for operation simply by erecting the tripod, fitting the head assembly, mounting sensor assembly, and putting the missiles into position. The LML assembly is completed in a few minutes and is then ready for firing.

The Starstreak missile is capable of being launched from lightweight land, sea and air platforms, from either automatic fire control systems such as the RAPIDRanger or the Starstreak Lightweight Multiple Launcher, Next Generation (LML NG). Starstreak can therefore be deployed quickly into operations and is easy to integrate into a force structure.

The latest generation of the Starstreak missile is able to intercept aerial targets at a maximum range of 7 km and an altitude of up to 5 km. The missile is equipped with three "Darts" sub-munitions, each carrying 450 gr of explosive charge, detonated by a delayed-action, impact activated fuze. On impact with the target, a delayed-action fuze is triggered. This gives time for the projectile to penetrate the target before the explosive warhead detonates. The tungsten housing is designed to fragment and produce maximum damage inside the target.