Wednesday, October 16, 2013

UK Orders 200 Starstreak Surface-to-Air Missiles

The United Kingdom has ordered 200 Starstreak Surface-to-Air Missiles from Thales for Very Short-Range Air Defense (VSHORAD). They are to be delivered in 2014 to increase existing stocks.

The Starstreak High Velocity Missile stands out by taking a different design approach compared to other contemporary missiles by among others utilizing semi-automatic line-of-sight laser beam riding.

It is very different from designs developed by other countries such as the United States, Russia and China. Notable differences include:
  • With a maximum speed of Mach 3.5, the Starstreak is almost twice as fast as its competitors which usually travel below Mach 2.
  • Starstreak missiles are laser-beam riders, unlike others that often rely on a infrared seeker for guidance.
  • The Starstreak uses submunitions with three darts, unlike other missiles with unitary warheads.
Compared to more traditional peers such as the Stinger, SA-18/24 and FN-6, the Starstreak has its advantages and disadvantages.

The laser of the Starstreak can be detected and is vulnerable to counter-attack, while infrared guidance allows the launcher to disengage shortly afterward. On the other hand, the much faster Starstreak can engage the target faster and gives it less time for counter-measures.

The Starstreak comes in both vehicle mounted version or as a shoulder-launched Man Portable Air Defense System (MANPADS). Specifications of the Starstreak are listed as:
  • Length of 1.39 m
  • Diameter of 0.13 m
  • Weight of 17 kg
  • Speed of Mach 3.5
  • Effective range of 5500 m
  • Maximum range of 7000 m 
The Starstreak missiles do not require any maintenance with their high reliability and are said to have a shelf life of 15 years. Besides the UK, the Starstreak is also used in South Africa and were ordered by Thailand in 2012.

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