The UK will provide Ukrainian forces with anti-aircraft vehicles as they fight against Russia’s offensive in the east of the country.
The support comes after Ukrainian generals were invited to Salisbury Plain Army Training Estate to view the anti-air military technology available to them.
In a statement to parliament today (25 April), Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said Stormer armoured vehicles will give Ukrainian forces “enhanced, short-range anti-air capabilities both day and night”.
Mr Wallace told the Commons that “as we can see from Ukrainians’ requests, more still needs to be done”.
He added: “So, for that reason I can now announce to the House that we shall be gifting a small number of armoured vehicles fitted with launchers for those anti-air missiles.
“The Stormer vehicles will give Ukrainian forces enhanced, short-range anti-air capabilities both day and night.”
After withdrawing from the north of Ukraine, Russia has refocused its forces onto the East of the country, increasing its troop numbers and launching a large-scale offensive on the Donbas region.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the Russian military was throwing everything it has into the battle for Donbas, with most of its combat-ready forces now concentrated in Ukraine and just across the border in Russia.
In his nightly address to the nation, he said: “They have driven almost everyone and everything that is capable of fighting us against Ukraine.”
He has appealed for more help with ground-based air defence.
What is a Stormer armoured vehicle?
Stormers are British armoured, anti-aircraft, combat vehicles. The “armour” refers to the plating that the vehicles are fitted with, for protection against bullets or shell fragments and “anti-aircraft” means that they are designed to protect against air attack.
The Stormers act as a mobile platform for Starstreak High Velocity Missiles (HVM) which can be used to counter aerial attacks.
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Western Governments have only supplied shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles.
According to the Ministry of Defence, a Stormer has a maximum speed of 80kph, a range of 600km and weighs 13,50kg.
The Stormer is fitted with a roof-mounted air defence alerting device which provides target detection and prioritisation. A panoramic weapon sight is located at the front of the vehicle.
What are Starstreak missiles?
Starstreak missiles are a British short-range air defence system which can be operated manually on the shoulder, or mounted onto vehicles, as is the case for the Stormers.
The missile releases three darts which each have an explosive warhead. It is one of the fastest and most accurate missiles of its kind.
In his statement to parliament on 25 April, Ben Wallace claimed Ukrainian forces have been using Starstreak high-velocity and low-velocity anti-air missiles for more than three weeks.
He said: “In response to indiscriminate bombing from the air and escalation by President Putin forces on March 9, I announced the UK would supply Starstreak high-velocity and low-velocity anti-air missiles.
“I am able to now report to the House that these have been in theatre for over three weeks and have been deployed and used by Ukrainian forces to defend themselves and their territory.”
How else is the UK supporting Ukraine?
The British government has provided economic, humanitarian and defensive military aid to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion.
The UK has sent over 4,000 anti-tank weapons to Ukraine including NLAW and Javelin missiles as well as loitering munitions. They have also provided Ukrainian troops with military equipment such as body armour, helmets and night vision goggles.
After refugees were targeted in the attack on Kramatorsk train station, Boris Johnson committed to sending another £100 million in weaponry to Ukraine.
The Government has also provided £400 million in humanitarian and economic aid to Ukraine and the NHS has donated medicines and intensive care equipment.
The UK has joined other allies such as the US, EU and Australia in imposing sanctions on Russian oligarchs and institutions, with over 1000 individuals and entities facing sanctions.