British Starstreak Missile Shoots Down Russian Helicopters in Ukraine

British Starstreak Missile Shoots Down Russian Helicopters in Ukraine
  • The UK has provided its Starstreak anti-aircraft missile to help Ukraine defend its skies.
  • The missile is already bringing down Russian helicopters and winning praise from Ukrainian troops.

What is the STARStreak missile that shot down a Russian helicopter?

The Times of London reported last week that video footage showed a STARStreak high-velocity missile hitting a Russian Mi-28N attack helicopter. The strike was believed to have occurred in the eastern Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine.

The video, which has since gone viral on social media, appears to show a helicopter being shot out of the sky by a land-based missile system. The missile seems to strike the vehicle on its tail, sending it plummeting to the ground.

British defense sources also told the newspaper that the video was believed to be real.

The STARStreak missile responsible for downing the helicopter was gifted by the United Kingdom, and it has been used to destroy a multitude of Russian aircraft and vehicles in recent weeks.

What is the STARStreak missile?

British Stormer vehicle Starstreak

A British Stormer vehicle fires a Starstreak High Velocity Missile, September 13, 2014.

Sgt Mark Webster RLC


Built by Thales Air Defence, a weapons manufactured based in Northern Ireland, the STARStreak missile is a short-range surface to air missile that has been deployed in recent weeks to Ukraine.

The portable missile system is designed to be transported by foot or vehicle and can be launched from over the shoulder. After launch, a STARStreak missile quickly accelerates to Mach 4 — roughly 3,000 mph. It is the fastest surface-to-air missile ever made.

The technology on these weapons goes even further, with the missile launcher three submunitions that follow three laser beams. It means that with every missile, there are secondary opportunities for submunitions to strike the target using laser guidance.

In service for the British military since 1997, the weapon was actually designed and developed in the 1980s after the British government encouraged the development of the nation’s air-defense capabilities.

Thales describes the STARStreak missile as a weapon designed to take out air targets with high precision from a system that requires zero maintenance.

“STARStreak High-Velocity Missile was designed to provide close air defense against conventional air threats such as fixed-wing fighters and late unmasking helicopter targets,” official Thales documentation reads.

The missile is just 14 kg in weight, has an operational range of over 7000 meters, and is designed to minimize collateral damage by increasing precision.

‘Thank you, Britain’

British army Starstreak High Velocity Missile

A British soldier aims a Starstreak High Velocity Missile System at Blackheath, London, March 5, 2012.

Lewis Whyld/PA Images via Getty Images


In April, Ukrainian soldiers appeared in a video thanking British Prime Minister Boris Johnson for authorizing successive rounds of military aid to the country.

In the video footage, Ukrainian troops can be heard celebrating after shooting a Russian unmanned aerial using a British-made missile. A Ukrainian soldier can be seen in the clip firing the laser-guided STARStreak missile into the air, before striking a drone. Spectators are heard cheering loudly.

The video was clipped together with another video of soldiers thanking the British PM.

“This is the greeting of Ukrainian paratroopers to Boris Johnson,” the soldiers say. “Thank you, Britain. We use. The support of allies effectively.”

Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the UK, Europe, and the US, he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.

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