The UK is planning to supply Ukraine with anti-aircraft missiles to help it defend its skies from Russian invasion, defence minister Ben Wallace said, stressing that the technology fell within the definition of defensive weapons. It is vital that Ukraine maintains its ability to fly and suppress Russian air attack. In response to Ukrainian requests, the UK government has taken the decision to explore the donation of STARStreak high-velocity man-portable anti-air missiles. The UK believe that this system will remain within the definition of defensive weapons, but will allow the Ukrainian force to better defend their skies.
The decision had been taken in principle to supply the systems, and the government was working out how to get them into Ukraine and train Ukrainian forces to use them. If confirmed, the supply would mark a significant step in Britain’s support for Ukraine. So far, Ukraine has praised Britain’s contribution of thousands of anti-tank missiles which have helped slow the Russian advance on Kyiv. However UK’s support has been limited to defensive weaponry. Everything UK do is bound by the decision to supply defensive systems, and are calibrated not to escalate to a strategic level.
Starstreak is a British short range man-portable air-defence system (MANPADS) manufactured by Thales Air Defence (formerly Shorts Missile Systems), in Belfast. After launch, the missile accelerates to more than Mach 4, making it the fastest short-range surface-to-air missile. Starstreak is also known as Starstreak HVM (High Velocity Missile). The dart housing is made from a tungsten alloy. Each sub-munition dart travelling at 4,500 km/h (1,200 m/s; 4,100 ft/s; 2,800 mph) has comparable kinetic energy to a shell from a Bofors 40 mm gun. Starstreak has been in service with the British Army since 1997.
It then launches three laser beam-riding submunitions, increasing the likelihood of a successful hit on the target. Most ther manpad’s use infrared homing which means it is fire and forget, but the homing can be tricked by chaff and flares. Starstreak uses beam riding SACLOS which means the command unit has to follow the target and send a beam at the target which the missile rides. It cannot be suppressed with anti-radar missiles or radar/radio countermeasures. Starstreak’s system allows for the beam area to be much larger than the target while retaining pinpoint accuracy.