Britain Orders more STARStreak Anti-Aircraft Missiles
In 2009, Britain was looking to cut the number of STARStreak portable air defense missiles in stock, even as it signed a through-life support contract that would last until 2020-2021. In 2013, they changed course, buying another 200 missiles in order to deploy it beyond Britain’s regular forces and into reserve formations.
The new missile will be delivered by June 2014, and the buy is good news for Thales’ Belfast, Northern Ireland facility. The missile itself is somewhat unusual.
The STARStreak system’s combination of extreme Mach 3+ speed, laser-riding guidance, kill method, and low maintenance costs offers a number of advantages over peer systems like the slower, seeker-guided American Stinger, French Mistral, and Russian SA-18. The flip side is that its manual all-the-way guidance approach places a premium on operator training. That makes it much less worrying if it falls into the hands of guerrilla forces, but it can also be a big disadvantage in some countries. Even worse for Thales, the firm’s natural customer set was pre-empted by competitors who introduced their wares during the Cold War, before STARStreak was introduced in the 1990s.
Thales continues to promote STARStreak, after its highly public role in defending the 2012 London Olympic Games. The British order is their 2nd success, after Thailand. Current releases give it an extended in-service date in Britain “beyond 2025.”
Beyond that, some of STARStreak’s elements were recycled into Thales’ new Light Modular Missile / FASGW-Light short-range strike missile for helicopters and UAVs. Sources: UK MoD, “MOD orders more Starstreak missiles” | Thales, Oct 11/13 release.