The British Army describe the Starstreak High-Velocity Missile (HVM) as;
It is made by Thales in Belfast.
Starstreak HVM History
Blowpipe entered service with the British Army in the late seventies as a man-portable air defence missile for use against oncoming targets mainly thought to be Warsaw Pact attack helicopters and fighters.
It was used operationally by both the UK and Argentine during the 1982 Falklands Conflict although only with limited success. Despite nearly 100 being fired only two confirmed kills were achieved, Argentine forces shot down a Harrier GR.3 with one and an Argentine Aermacchi MB.339 was shot down over Goose Green.
Although many criticised this performance it was somewhat unfair, the engagements Blowpipe was designed for were very different than those encountered in 1982. The much feted Stinger, unlike Blowpipe, had trouble with oncoming targets and could be defeated with IR countermeasures. Blowpipe also had a much larger warhead.
That said, it needed replacement.
That new system was Javelin, entering service in 1984 after Shorts had received developed funding from the MoD. 46 Air Defence Battery 2 Field Regiment Royal Artillery was the first unit to be equipped with Javelin in 1984. It was reported in 1985 that in training, hit ratios had increased significantly. The most significant improvement was a replacement for the guidance system, instead of Manual Command Line of Sight (MANLOS) the new weapon was to use Semi-Automatic Command Line of Sight (SACLOS). Instead of manually guided the missile to the target, the operator would maintain the aim point on the target and the missile would do the rest. This allowed the system to attack oncoming targets and reduced the training overhead significantly. Although Javelin looked superficially similar to Blowpipe it was a new system.
Javelin was replaced by the Javelin S-15 that used a laser beam-riding guidance system, the basis of which was used for Starstreak. Javelin S-15 was also called Starburst. This was a significant development for the Javelin system and would form the basis for follow-on systems like LMM and HVM. A version of the Shorts Shorland armoured car was also fitted with the three round Light Missile Launcher
Despite Javelin coming into service, the MoD formed a requirement for a system that would complement Rapier for manoeuvre forces. General Staff Requirement (GSR) 3979 for a high-velocity anti-aircraft missile was issued. Two bidders emerged, Shorts and BAE, a one-year definition study was awarded to both in 1984.
BAE proposed a Mach 4 missile called Thunderbolt. It was available in an eight round trainable launcher mounted on the Stormer armoured vehicle, a single round shoulder launcher and a four round pedestal launcher. Shorts entered the 4km range High-Velocity Missile called Starstreak, also available in the vehicle, shoulder and pedestal mounted options.
In December 1986, the MoD awarded a £225 million contract to Shorts for the development and initial manufacture of the Starstreak High-Velocity Missile (HVM) system. A £40m order for Stormer vehicles was also awarded to Alvis.
Malaysia purchased a number of items of British defence equipment in 1988, including Javelin/Starburst. In 1992, Shorts commenced firing trial of the eight round Starburst/Javelin S-15 launcher. Shorts teamed with Radamec Defence Services in 1993 to develop the SR2000 integrated naval air defence system that utilised a six round stabilised Starburst/Javelin S-15 launcher and an electro-optical tracking system.
Deliveries of Starstreak commenced in 1994, five years later than planned. Also in 1994, the Kuwaiti Air Force ordered Starburst in a £50 million contract and the Royal Navy ordered a small quantity. Some work was also done to develop a helicopter launched variant for the Apache in the mid-nineties and a naval mount called Seastreak in response to a 1994 Royal Navy project called Inner Layer Defence System (ILDS). The eight round Starburst/Javelin launcher would go on to be used for HVM.
Even before Starstreak came into service the MoD awarded a contract to Thorn EMI Electronics for four hundred Air Defence Alerting Devices (ADAD). The same technology had also been specified for the Eurofighter Typhoon, this would go on to become the Passive Infra-Red Airborne Tracking Equipment (PIRATE) system seen on the nose of the Typhoon.
In 2001, the MoD awarded a £66 million contract to Thales Air Defence (formerly Shorts Missile Systems) for Successor Identification Friend or Foe for the British Army’s Starstreak HVM. A follow-on contract implemented a thermal sighting system.
Thales were awarded an availability contract worth £200 million in 2008 under the Air Defence Availability Project (ADAPT);
ADAPT assured support out to 2020 and also included a capability insertion programme; the development of a new day/night fire control capability, automatic target tracking and a new missile standard, Starstreak II. The improvements were to be delivered under the HVM Integrated Programme Enhancement project. A new training system would also be introduced, taking advantage of the latest high-fidelity simulation technology.
In 2011, the MoD and Thales came to agreement on the Lightweight Multirole Missile;
Starstreak achieved some measure of public recognition in 2012 when it was used to provide part of the air-defence capability for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Two systems were deployed.
In 2013, 200 Starstreak II missiles were ordered by the MoD.
Under Army 2020, 106 (Yeomanry) Regiment (Army Reserve) has two batteries (295 and 457) with Self Propelled HVM and one with the LML (265). The Regular HVM Regiment, paired with 106, is 12 Regiment. 12 Regiment has three batteries (T, 9 and 58) on Self Propelled HVM and one with LML (12).
The Lightweight Multiple Launcher is also in service with the Royal Marines.
It was also recently announced that the British Army would integrate LMM with their Starstreak launch systems, namely the single cannister launcher, Lightweight Multiple Launcher (LML) and FV433 Stormer vehicle.
Starstreak HVM Capabilities
Starstreak HVM is an extremely lethal weapon system;
- When combined with ADAD, detection is completely passive and can operate in day or at night
- It can be networked and separated from the detection system using a simple cable
- The missile has extremely high speed, if an aircraft does detect the launch, it has very little time to do anything about it
- The missile guidance system cannot be jammed and is immune to countermeasures
- The ‘hitiles’ have both a great deal of kinetic energy but also a delayed action fuze that initiates inside the target
It also has secondary ground attack) capability and comprises a number of elements, in addition to various training aids and ancillaries;
High-Velocity Missile (HVM)
The Mach 3.5 missile is 1.4m long, 0.27m diameter and weighs 16.8kg in its sealed launch tube.
As can be seen from the video below, the launching sequence is a two-stage process, the first stage ejects the missile to a safe distance whereupon the main motor propels the missile to the burnout stage. As the second stage motor burns out the dart release mechanism operates the three darts coast to the target. Each dart contains a delayed initiation 0.9kg blast fragmentation warhead for maximum target effects.
Coasting is perhaps not the best description, though, Starstreak HVM operates at a very high speed, Mach 3+. This high speed is designed to allow the system to be used against pop up and fleeting targets. It also reduces the possibility of detection and counter-attack.
Guidance is as per Javelin S15, laser beam riding. The operator places an indicator on the target and the tracking system maintains the aim point on the target. No countermeasures are possible, flares or chaff are ineffective.
Starstreak II (HVM A5) increases maximum range to ‘beyond 7km’
Shoulder and Lightweight Multiple Launcher
Although the Shoulder-Launched aiming unit is less commonly used it is very quick to deploy and contains a stabilised monocular sight and aiming point injector.
The lightweight multiple launcher (LML) can be fitted with up to three missiles to enable multiple targets to be quickly engaged, one after the other. It uses a standard aiming point with IFF and Thales ASPIC automatic fire control system.
The tripod weighs 16kg, traverse head 19.5kg, sighting system 9kg and thermal sight, 6kg.
Thales unveiled a new Lightweight Multiple Launcher in 2015 that reduced the missile count by one but reduced weight. It also has the capability to use the Lightweight Multirole Missile and thermal imaging optics, together with full network connectivity for integration with other air defence systems.
Air Defence Alerting Device (ADAD)
The Thales Air Defence Alerting Device (ADAD) is a passive infra-red detection, classification and prioritisation system used in conjunction with both the LML and SP launch systems. Operating in the 8-14micron waveband, it can detect fixed-wing targets at 9km and helicopters at 6km.
It consists of three main components, the rotating scanner infra-red assembly (SIA), electronic pack remote display unit (EPRDU) and electronic pack processing unit (EPPU). A power supply unit and cables complete the system. The detector uses a continuously rotating mirror, providing 360-degree coverage at -7 to +17 degrees elevation. The electronics processor and display unit provide prioritised target information to the operator and can also be used to automatically cue the weapon launch system. Multiple display units can be connected, up to 500m from the scanner.
Total programme cost for the ADAD programme was approximately £100m
Self Propelled HVM
The Alvis/BAE Stormer vehicle is used as the base for the Self-Propelled Starstreak HVM system. The vehicle carries eight missiles in a ready to launch assembly and up to a further twelve missiles in the rear compartment.
The Air Defence Alerting Device (ADAD) is mounted on the missile launch assembly and the thermal sighting assembly is mounted on the front right-hand side of the vehicle roof. This is a Thales unit, based on the STAIRS C system.