Thales STARStreak HVM Man-portable Air-defence System (MANPADS)
Thales STARStreak HVM Man-portable Air-defence System (MANPADS)

UK Starstreak Missile Shoots Down Russian Attack Helicopter in Ukraine War


UK’s most advanced portable missile system is thought to have shot down a Russian attack helicopter in its first use on the Ukrainian battlefield. Starstreak, a high-velocity projectile that destroys targets with three kinetic darts, was filmed cutting a Russian Mi-28N Night Hunter attack helicopter in two as its tail is struck by the portable missile over the Luhansk region in the east of the country. Footage of the attack shows the tungsten spears breaking the tail off the Mi-28N, after Ukrainians using British techniques opened fire. They are made of extremely hard tungsten, allowing them to pierce even armoured vehicles.

The UK supplied Ukraine with anti-aircraft missiles to help it defend its skies from Russian invasion. . 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. So far, Ukraine has praised Britain’s contribution of thousands of NLAW anti-tank missiles which have helped slow the Russian advance on Kyiv.

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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.

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