StarStreak anti-aircraft missile system really has extremely unique characteristics, appearance and even principle of operation.

We can start with the fact that StarStreak, which was developed by Thales Air Defense in the mid-90s, is quite difficult to even classify.

It has characteristics that are on the border of two types: MANPADS and SAMs of the near zone. StarStreak can destroy air targets at a range of up to 7 km, both in altitude and range.


In these respects, it surpasses models such as the FIM-92 Stinger MANPADS and a full-fledged complex such as the Arrow-10, being able to reach the enemy at a much higher altitude. At the same time, the dimensions of a single launcher allow you to use it even “off the shoulder”, but the most common option is a machine or mobile launcher.

StarStreak – rocket characteristics

    • Maximum target range: 7 km
    • Maximum target height: 7 km
    • Maximum ammunition speed: Mach 4

The first thing that catches your eye is the ammunition itself. Instead of the usual anti-aircraft missile system, StarStreak uses three separate sub-munitions to hit targets – tungsten darts weighing less than one kilogram and about one meter long.


Despite their size, each of these darts is guided – on the principle of “laser trail”, when the control laser beam “illuminates” the tail of the ammunition. This principle allows you to completely ignore the thermal traps that can “trick” missiles with infrared homing heads.


Also impressive is the speed at which these darts fly – more than 3,500 km / h. This makes StarStreak the fastest in its class among all MANPADS and near-zone SAMs. In general, the energy transmitted to the darts by the starting engine is enough to intercept targets with an overload of 9g at an altitude of up to 7 km.

Another “surprise” of StarStreak – darts have a combat unit with a slow-action detonator. That is, the target is first stitched with tungsten “crowbars”, which explode inside the fuselage or helicopter.

And finally. StarStreak uses a powerful thermal imager to detect and aim. That is, the SAM itself does not emit anything and can not be recorded by threat warning stations, which are installed on aircraft.


StarStreak combat application

At the same time, it should be noted that the war in Ukraine will be the first combat use of StarStreak in real conditions. Until now, he was shot only at training targets. But for the British army, this complex is one of the few SAMs in general, that is, the British command has high hopes for it.

A similar situation was around the well-known NABW ATGM from Saab, several thousand of which London handed over before the war. Although this anti-tank complex did not have a “track record”, it showed its extremely high efficiency in the first days of the fighting.


In general, StarStreak can be an extremely unpleasant surprise for Russian aviation. The fact is that the maximum target destruction ceiling in this SAM is much higher than in portable anti-aircraft missile systems such as “Needle” and Stinger. Therefore, Russian Air Force aircraft could test in some areas that are not covered by long-range SAMs, “climb” above 5 km and feel safe.

But after the first successful episodes of using StarStreak, the enemy will suddenly realize that now you need to “climb” for 8-9 km. And for front-line aircraft, these are already quite difficult heights, because it is possible to work with them with ordinary bombs only in the area of ​​the target. That is, the combat effectiveness of Russian aircraft will be significantly reduced.