What is a starstreak missile? Why the UK could send anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine

Defence secretary Ben Wallace has said that Vladimir Putin is inflicting “horrific devastation” on the Ukrainian people.

<p>Starstreak missiles could be sent to Ukraine from the UK in the fightback against Russia. (Credit: Getty)</p>

Starstreak missiles could be sent to Ukraine from the UK in the fightback against Russia. (Credit: Getty)

The UK could soon send starstreak missiles to Ukraine in an attempt to bolster the country’s defences against Russia.

Defence secretary Ben Wallace has told of the possibility of sending the defensive weapons in order to allow Ukrainian troops to defend their territory from invading Russian troops.

It comes after President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine urged Western nations for more support, including the creation of a no-fly zone in the skies above the country.

While his pleas for a no-fly zone have so far fallen on deaf ears in the West, the UK are among a number of states willing to support Ukraine with the supply of weapons.

But what exactly are starstreak missiles, and how likely are the UK to send the weapons to Ukraine?

What is a starstreak missile?

A starstreak missile is a portable air-defence weapon which can be fired from lightweight land, sea and air.

Starstreak missiles could be sent to Ukraine from the UK in the fightback against Russia. (Credit: Getty)

Thales Air Defence, the Belfast company which developed the weapon, described the missiles as being “designed to provide close air defence against conventional air threats such as fixed wing fighters and late unmasking helicopter targets”.

The relatively lightweight launcher, and the 14kg missiles, was created to be deployed quickly and can reach a distance of around 7km.

It is also believed to be the fastest short-range surface-to-air weapons in the world.

Has the UK ever used starstreak missiles?

The UK have had the missiles in their arsenal since 1997, with the most high-profile use of the weapons coming during the London 2012 Olympics games.

As part of security for the games, the British Army installed the launchers onto the top of London high rise flats in the case that the event was to come under attack.

They have also been used throughout the world, including being used by the South African and Indonesian armies.

Will the UK send starstreak missiles to Ukraine?

Although the UK Government has not confirmed the shipment of the defensive weapons to Ukraine, defence secretary Ben Wallace has revealed that ministers are “exploring” the possibility.

He said: “In response to a Ukrainian request, the Government has taken the decision to explore the donation of Starstreak high-velocity manned portable anti-air missiles.

“We believe that this system will remain within the definition of defensive weapons but will allow the Ukrainian force to better defend their skies.

“We shall also be increasing the supplies of rations, medical equipment and other non-lethal military aid.”

While the UK have so far refused the calls for a no-fly zone, Mr Wallace did say that in addition to providing more defensive weapons, including anti-tank weapons, the UK would be upping the humanitarian aid.

The UK will become “the single biggest bilateral donor to Ukraine” after they pledged £220million.

Support people fleeing the devastating conflict in Ukraine: donate to the DEC appeal

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