The move comes on the heels of an earlier delivery of a type of light-weight anti-tank bazooka known as the NLAW – a weapon which has also been manufactured in Belfast.
The government today said that some 3,615 NLAWs had been delivered to the Ukranians, and the UK will “continue to deliver more” (WATCH: Ukrainian forces are now armed with ‘built in Belfast’ NLAW anti-tank bazookas)
In a statement, it added: “We will shortly be starting the delivery of a small consignment of anti-tank Javelin missiles.
“The Government has taken the decision to explore the donation of Starstreak high velocity man-portable anti air missiles.
“We will also be increasing supplies of rations, medical equipment and other non-lethal military aid.”
Starstreak, like the NLAW and Javelin, is built by Thales Air Defence, which has a manufacturing site in Belfast.
According to Thales (which is ultimately headquartered in France), the city is “a centre of excellence for Thales’s air defence and surface attack solutions”.
> Javelins are an older type of weapon system, and according to the website www.Forces.net they are 1.4 metres (4.6 feet) long, weigh a whopping 24.3kg (3.8 stone), and have a range of 2,500 metres (1.5 miles).
> NLAWs weigh 12.5kg (two stone) are about a metre long (3.2 feet) and have a range of 600m (0.4 miles – although some models go further).
> And the Starstreaks are 1.4 metres long (4.6 feet), weigh about 14kg (2.2 stone), and work at a distance of some 7,000 metres (about 4.3 miles).
Although they can be carried and fired by a single soldier, the Starstreaks are often fired from vehicles, and are designed mainly for taking down aircraft rather than slow-moving tanks.
Thales says the three-pronged missiles accelerate to three times the speed of sound in under one second, are guided to their targets by laser, are tipped with the nearly-unmeltable metal tungsten – and are “immune to all known countermeasures”.
According to the New York-based website Business Insider, written by former US Army officer Dr Brent Eastwood: “The Ukrainians are setting up counter-attacks and ambushes in the suburbs of Kyiv on Russian armored columns using the NLAW. The NLAW system is proving its mettle.
“Since the NLAWs came over before the war started, they were able to be distributed widely to soldiers, and the Ukrainians are taking the initiative to blast Russian armor.”
Nick Reynolds, a research analyst for land warfare at the Royal United Service Institute (RUSI), told the PA news agency that Starstreak is “very effective” but “more complicated” to use than the other missiles.
Dr Jack Watling, a research fellow for land warfare at RUSI, also told PA that Starstreak has a “very heavy training burden... you have to be able to guide it in (to a target), which takes a lot of practice.”
Meanwhile Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said in the Commons today that Russia is “abandoning” many of its soldiers on the front lines as the Ukrainians hold their resolve.
“What a disgrace that the Russian generals have abandoned those young men to be murdered, not murdered, to be killed, sorry, not murdered,” he said.
“That’s the leadership of the Russian army that deserves to be in court for betraying their own soldiers, and at the same time for what they’re doing to the civilians.”
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