Starstreak Missile System

Starstreak HVM (High Velocity Missile) continues the development path of both Blowpipe and Javelin. It can be shoulder launched, fired from the Lightweight Multiple Launcher (LML) or vehicle bourne on the Alvis Stormer APC which has an 8 round launcher (12 reload missiles can be carried inside the vehicle).

Starstreak is designed to counter threats from very high performance low flying aircraft and fast pop-up type strikes by attack helicopters. Starstreak is a close range anti-air guided weapon system for defence against helicopters and high-speed ground attack aircraft

The system is produced by Thales Air Defence Ltd (TADL), formerly Shorts Missile Systems, of Belfast, Northern Ireland. The Starstreak self-propelled high-velocity missile (SP HVM) system has been in service with the British Army since 1997, the Lightweight Multiple Launcher (LML) and shoulder-launched versions since September 2000.

The original order of 135 systems has been completed and a five-year production contract was awarded to Shorts in December 1999. A follow-on contract with deliveries starting in 2007 was awarded in July 2004. Deployment is with the 12th regiment in three batteries of 36 systems. Starstreak received export clearance for the UK Ministry of Defence in September 1999.

July 2001, TADL received a contract for a SIFF (Successor Identification Friend or Foe) system for the Starstreak HVM. Thales Communications of France is the main subcontractor.

December 2002, the South African Army ordered eight Starstreak lightweight multiple launchers. The systems will be supplied by Kentron. The order forms the first phase of South Africa’s Ground Based Air Defence Local Warning Segment. The systems will be supported by Thales Page radar.

July 2004, the UK MoD announced that the number of Starstreak HVM units in the British Army is to be reduced from 156 to 84 fire units.

A new Air Defence Command and Control System, ADC4I, is to be developed for the UK Ministry of Defence Ground Based Air Defence (GBAD) programme Phase I. The system will integrate Starstreak and the Rapier FSC air defence missile system to provide a network enabled capability. Phase 2 will involve the upgrading of the missile systems. MBDA and EADS Defence & Communications were awarded the contract for the assessment phase of the programme in December 2003.

The Air Defence Alerting

The Air Defence Alerting device is a passive air defence alerter designed to work in conjunction with the HVM missile system. Operating as an infra red search and tracking system in the 8 – 14 micron waveband, the alerter is designed to operate against low and fast moving fixed wing aircraft, as well as the latest generation of attack helicopters. The alerter can be ground mounted to support shoulder launched / LML HVM or vehicle mounted on the Stormer HVM vehicle.

The Missile

The missile consists of a two-stage solid propellant rocket motor, a separation system and three high density darts. A pulse of power from the missile firing unit causes the first-stage motor to ignite, which accelerates the missile. Canted nozzles on the missile cause it to roll.

The centrifugal force of the roll causes the fins to unfold for aerodynamic stability in flight. Once clear of the canister, the motor is jettisoned. The second-stage motor ignites and accelerates the missile to a velocity greater than Mach 4. A separation system at the front end of the motor contains three darts.

When the second stage motor is burnt out, the thrust triggers the three darts to automatically separate. The darts maintain a high kinetic energy as they are guided to the same single target. Each dart contains guidance and control circuitry, a thermal battery, and a high-density penetrating warhead with fuse.

The separation of the darts initiates the arming of the individual warheads. Each dart is guided independently using a double laser beam riding system. As the dart impacts the target, the inertial forces activate the delay fuse, allowing the warhead to penetrate before detonation.

The Starstreak SP HVM is mounted on a tracked Alvis Stormer vehicle. The system has eight rounds of Starstreak missiles ready to fire, with a further twelve missiles carried. SP HVM is fitted with a roof-mounted Air Defence Alerting Device (ADAD), supplied by Thales (formerly Pilkington) Optronics.

ADAD’s infrared scanner and processor provide target detection and prioritisation and the system automatically slews the weapon sight onto the target. The use of ADAD requires that the vehicle be, briefly, stationary.

A panoramic weapon sight is supplied by Avimo (now part of Thales) and is located at the front right of the vehicle. Thales (formerly Pilkington) Optronics has been awarded a contract to supply a new thermal sighting system for the British Army SP HVM. The system is based on STAIRS C (Sensor Technology Affordable Infra Red Systems) technology, developed by Thales Optronics and the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA), now called QinetiQ.


In mid-2001, Thales Air Defence was awarded a £66 million order for an Identification Friend-or-Foe (IFF) system for the Starstreak HVM.

The ‘Starstreak’ HVM missile has been in use with the British military since 1995. This contract follows on from earlier buys and will ensure that our ground forces maintain their ground-to-air missile capability until 2020. The system, which is effective at a range of over 5km, incorporates the highly advanced Air Defence Alerting Device (ADAD) which provides automatic targeting in all weathers. It is also extremely stealthy, emitting no signals that can be picked up by enemy monitoring systems.

ATASK Air To Air Starstreak

ATASK, an airborne variant of Starstreak, provides an air-to-air capability for attack helicopters. ATASK has been tested for the United States Army on the Apache attack helicopter. The first phase of the programme involved the launch of six Starstreak missiles from an Apache helicopter at the Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona. In November 1998, ATASK successfully hit targets during the airborne firing tests. During the second phase, the laser beam guidance system of Starstreak was integrated with the Target Acquisition Sight (TADS) and fire control system of the Apache.

Shoulder Launched

The portable shoulder-launched Starstreak is assembled and ready to fire in a few seconds. Preparation for firing involves clipping an aiming unit onto the missile canister. The aiming unit includes an optical head consisting of a stabilisation system, an aiming mark injector and a monocular sight. The target is acquired and optically tracked using the monocular sight and aiming mark.

Lightweight Multiple Launcher

The Lightweight Multiple Launcher (LML), in service with the UK Army, is integrated with Thales Air Defence ASPIC automatic fire unit and can be carried on any light wheeled vehicle such as a Land Rover or HMMWV. The Multiple Launcher employs three canistered missiles together with clip-on equipment and a standard aiming unit. Three targets can be engaged in quick succession without the need for reloading.