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One of the missiles that Starstreak fires.
Place of originUnited Kingdom UK
Service history
In service1997 - Present
Used bySee Operators
Production history
ManufacturerThales Air Defence
ProducedNovember 1986
No. built7,000
VariantsSee Variants
Specifications (Starstreak High Velocity Missile)
Mass16.82 kg (37.1 lb)
Length1.397 m (4 ft 7 in)
Diameter13 cm (5.1 in)

Effective firing range0.3–7 km (0.19–4.35 mi)
Warhead weight0.9 kg (2 lb)

Starstreak is a British short range surface-to-air missile (also known as MANPADS). It is made by Thales Air Defence (first called Shorts Missile Systems), in Belfast. It is also known as Starstreak High Velocity Missile, or Starstreak HVM. After it is launched, the missile travels at about Mach 3 (3 times the speed of sound).[1] Starstreak has been in service with the British Army since 1997.

Starstreak can be fired from a soldier's shoulder or from the Stormer armoured vehicle.[1]

Starstreak can travel 1,500 metres minimum and 5,5000 metres maximum.[1]


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Starstreak began being developed in the early 1980s. This was after a study into a weapon that could add to the Rapier missile system. A General Staff Requirement (GSR 3979) [2] was made. This GSR showed what the missile system needed to have. One of the things it needed to have was three ways to launch the missile. These were:

  • A self-propelled launcher.[2]
  • A three round light weight launcher.[2]
  • A launcher which can be moved around by people.[2]

In 1984, the British Ministry of Defence gave contracts to British Aerospace (BAe) and Shorts Missile Systems to develop the missile. The BAe missile was called the Thunderbolt. Shorts won the competition. They were awarded £356 million. The weapon was developed more in November 1986. More contracts were also given out to make the missile. Starstreak was put into service officially in September 1997. Starstreak is supposed to replace the Javelin surface-to-air missile in British service.[2]

The light weight launcher and the launcher which can be moved around by people have been in use since 2000.[2]

In the middle of 2007, Thales UK in Northern Ireland said that it had developed Starstreak II. Starstreak II is an improved version of Starstreak. Some of these improvements were: a bigger range (7 km), a better system to find targets and the ability to find aircraft that are higher up in the air.[3]

In 2011, when Thales won a contract for the Lightweight Multirole Missile, Thales said it agreed with the MOD to "re-role previously contracted budgets to facilitate the full-scale development, series production and introduction of the LMM." This means that Thales were going to focus all their money on the Lightweight Multirole Missile. The contract affected by this is said to have been Starstreak.[4]


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A Starstreak, just after being launched from an AN/TWQ-1 Avenger

A soldier carries the Starstreak missile in a tube. This tube is sealed closed. The tube is attached to the main part of Starstreak to be fired. The gunner follows the target using Starstreak's special aiming system. When the gunner has locked on to the target, they press a button and the missile launches.[2]

The missile then fires its first motor. This launches the missile from the tube. However, it stops burning before the missile leaves the tube. This is to protect the gunner. When the missile is away from the gunner, another motor fires. It makes the missile go to Mach 3.5. It stops burning when it is about four hundred meters away from the gunner. The back of the missile has the systems that guide the missile by laser beams from the launcher. The Starstreak launches many small darts at its target. Each dart has around 450 g (16 oz) of explosive in it.[2]

When the darts hit the target, a fuze is triggered. This fuze delays the explosion. This gives time for the darts to get inside the target before the explosives go off. The explosive is inside a shell of tungsten. This tungsten is designed to split up and make as much damage as possible inside the target.[2]

In September 1999, the missile was shown attacking an armoured personnel carrier. This showed that Starstreak could also be useful in attacking targets on the ground as well as in the air.[2]

In 2012, the Ministry of Defence said that it was going to put a group of Starstreaks on top of an apartment complex in London. This was because of the 2012 London Olympics. The Ministry said that the area was the only place to put an anti-aircraft battery. Some people living there were not happy. They wondered why the battery was needed.[5]

Different kinds of Starstreak

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  • ATASK (Air To Air Starstreak): This kind of Starstreak is fired from a helicopter. It was designed to be used on the AH-64 Apache. It has not been put into service yet.[2]
  • LML: This type of Starstreak has three missiles which can be fired at any time. It can be used on vehicles like a Land Rover or HMMWV (Humvee).[2]
  • SP HVM: Carried on an Alvis Stormer. It has a launcher on the roof with eight missiles ready to fire. Another 12 missiles are inside the vehicle.[2]
  • THOR/Multi Mission System (MMS): A four-missile turret that is put on a Pinzgauer (6x6).[6] Thales UK announced this in 2005.[7]

How the Starstreak performs

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Good things about Starstreak

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  • It cannot be jammed.[8]
  • It cannot be destroyed with anti-radar missiles.[8]
  • It travels at a high speed and so is more likely to be able to hit a faster aircraft.

Bad things about Starstreak

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  • The darts need to hit a target to damage it.
  • Things like smoke can stop the gunner from being able to see their target. It can also mess around the guidance system.
  • The amount of training the gunner has can change how useful the missile is. The gunner needs to follow the target exactly with Starstreak's sight.
A Starstreak used in training on Dartmoor, England
 United Kingdom
  • Britain uses the SP HVM. It has around 150 Starstreaks.
 South Africa
  • South Africa uses the LML. It has 120 Starstreaks.
  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "British Army equipment". British Army. Retrieved February 17, 2012.[permanent dead link]
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 Jane's Land-Based Air Defence 2005-2006. Jane's information group. 1992. ISBN 0-7106-2697-5.
  3. "Starstreak II sighted". Janes Information Group. Archived from the original on 2009-04-12. Retrieved 2012-05-31.
  4. "Thales Wins UK Missile Order by Giving Up Other Work". Defence News.[permanent dead link]
  5. "UK puts missiles on London rooftop to guard Olympics". Reuters. Archived from the original on 2015-10-18. Retrieved 2017-08-31.
  6. "Thor – Multi-Mission air defense". defense-update.com. Archived from the original on 2009-01-29. Retrieved 2009-02-22.
  7. "Focus Archive". www.thalesuk.com. Archived from the original on 2009-04-12. Retrieved 2009-02-22.
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Starstreak High Velocity Missile". Armed Forces International. Archived from the original on 2009-05-01. Retrieved 2012-06-05.


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Other websites

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