Starstreak (missile)

Starstreak is a British short range Man-portable air-defense system (MANPADS) manufactured by Thales Air Defence (formerly Shorts Missile Systems), in Belfast. It is also known as Starstreak HVM (High Velocity Missile). After launch, the missile accelerates to more than Mach 4, making it the fastest short-range surface-to-air missile in the world. It then launches three laser beam riding submunitions, increasing the likelihood of a successful hit on the target. Starstreak has been in service with the British Army since 1997. In 2012 Thales rebranded the system under the ForceSHIELD banner.

Starstreak (missile)
Class Missile
Type Surface to Surface
Manufacturer Thales Air Defence
Origin United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain)
Country Name Origin Year
United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain) 1997
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Indonesia View
Malaysia View
South Africa View
Thailand (Siam) View
United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain) 1997 View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Thales Air Defence 1986 7000 View

Development on the missile began in the early 1980s after an evaluation of missile and gun options to increase air defence capabilities showed that a high-velocity missile system would best meet the needs and could also replace existing shoulder-launched missiles. A General Staff Requirement (GSR 3979) was drawn up with the requirements of the system, specifying the requirement of three launch platforms for the missile:

  • A self-propelled launcher.
  • A three-round lightweight launcher.
  • A man-portable launcher.

In 1984, the British Ministry of Defence awarded development contracts to British Aerospace (BAe) and Shorts Missile Systems. The BAe missile was known as Thunderbolt. Shorts won the competition and were awarded the £356 million. Further development and a production contract materialized in November 1986, and the missile was officially accepted into service in September 1997. The missile was intended to replace the Javelin surface-to-air missile in British service.[4] The LML and shoulder-launched versions have been in use since 2000.

In July 2001, Thales received a contract for a Successor Identification friend or foe system for Starstreak.

In mid-2007, Thales UK in Northern Ireland revealed that it had developed Starstreak II, a much improved successor to the Starstreak missile. Some of the advantages included in this new missile are an improved range of 7 kilometres, an improved targeting system and the ability to operate it at much higher altitudes,[5] up to 16404 ft (5 km).

In 2011, when it won a contract for the Lightweight Multirole Missile, Thales announced it agreed with the MOD to "re-role previously contracted budgets to facilitate the full-scale development, series production and introduction of the LMM." The contract affected is speculated to have been Starstreak.

In 2012, the Ministry of Defence announced that it would be placing a Starstreak detachment on top of a block of flats in London in preparation for the 2012 London Olympics. The Ministry claimed that the area was the only suitable location for an air defence detachment of the type. Some residents were upset and uncertain of the necessity of the detachment. In 2013, the British MOD ordered 200 more Starstreak missiles.

Type Manportable/Vehicle mounted surface-to-air missile
Place of origin United Kingdom
Service history
In service 1997–present
Used by See Operators
Production history
Designed 1980s
Manufacturer Thales Air Defence
Produced November 1986
Number built 7000
Variants See Variants
Specifications (Starstreak High Velocity Missile)
Weight 14.00 kg (30.86 lb)
Length 1.397 m (4 ft 7 in)
Diameter 13 cm (5.1 in)
Crew 1
Effective firing range 0.3–7 km (0.19–4.35 mi)
Warhead Three explosive sub-munitions ("darts")
Warhead weight 0.9 kg (2 lb)
Impact Delay
Engine First stage: Royal Ordnance 'Brambling' cast double-based propellant blip rocket motor.
Second stage: Royal Ordnance 'Titus' cast double-based propellant
Speed more than Mach 4 at second stage burnout
SACLOS and SALH system

End notes