British-made Starstreak missile ‘shoots down Russian helicopter in its first use in Ukraine’ as Zelensky says the ‘occupiers ARE withdrawing’ from West – but Kyiv is braced for new assault in East
- A British-made anti-aircraft missile shot down a Russian Mi-28N helicopter in the Luhansk region, said experts
- Footage showed the aircraft being cut in two as its tail was struck by the portable missile, made in Belfast
- The Starstreak system is a laser-guided missile that travels at more than three times the speed of sound
- Prime Minister Boris Johnson has repeatedly insisted the UK will provide further defensive support to Ukraine
A British-made Starstreak missile is understood to have shot down a Russian helicopter in the weapon’s first use in Ukraine – as the country’s president Volodymyr Zelensky says the ‘occupiers are withdrawing’ from the West.
The Starstreak system is a laser-guided missile that travels at more than three times the speed of sound to take down low-flying enemy jets and attack helicopters.
Britain is supplying and training Ukrainian troops in the use of the high-velocity anti-air missiles as well as providing body armour, helmets and combat boots.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has repeatedly insisted the UK will provide further defensive support to Ukraine, including a new package of 6,000 more missiles.
And footage now shows a Russian Mi-28N helicopter being shot out of the sky in the Luhansk region, being cut in two as its tail is struck by the portable missile.
The video released on Friday shows the Starstreak missile in action during its first week of use in the war, a source at the Ministry of Defence (MoD) told The Times.
It came as Zelensky alleged Russian troops were retreating from Ukraine’s northern region. He said: ‘The occupiers are withdrawing forces in the north of our country. The withdrawal is slow but noticeable.’
Meanwhile, UK defence sources revealed last night that Kremlin forces have run out of vital weapons and cannot now replenish their stocks.
The president’s forces drove Russia out of dozens of towns around Kyiv and the north in one of the most extraordinary days since the start of the invasion.
A British-made anti-aircraft missile shot down a Russian helicopter in the weapon’s first use in Ukraine, say experts
The Starstreak system is a laser-guided missile that travels at more than three times the speed of sound to take down low-flying enemy jets and attack helicopters
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace previously said the Starstreak system – a shoulder-mounted missile that travels at more than three times the speed of sound to take down low-flying enemy jets – was ready to be used imminently.
Mr Wallace said the first Ukrainian troops had been trained and were now deployed with Starstreak, adding that the UK was ‘doing more than pretty much anyone else’ to help the war-torn country.
‘One of the biggest challenges is that the more you go up in sophistication of weapons systems, the more training you require to use them, which is why the real focus of effort has to be helping the Ukrainians either refurbish or locate Russian or Soviet equipment that is already in their inventory,’ he told the Mail on Sunday.
‘Just providing British tanks wouldn’t really work.’
The weapon seen in the video shared on Friday is by short-range missiles company Thales. It can be shot from a shoulder or stand and has a range of more than four miles.
The missile detaches into three darts mid-air, which are guided to the target by a laser operator on the ground.
The use of lasers rather than being attracted to infrared energy means flares cannot counteract the three-pronged missile.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace previously said the Starstreak system – a shoulder-mounted missile that travels at more than three times the speed of sound to take down low-flying enemy jets – was ready to be used imminently
Zelensky’s forces drove Russia out of dozens of towns around Kyiv and the north in one of the most extraordinary days since the start of the invasion.
More than 30 settlements were reclaimed with Vladimir Putin’s forces retreating up to 25 miles in places.
But officials urged caution, saying the movement is part of Russia’s ‘tactics’ to encircle Ukrainian troops in Donbas and split the country in two.
Britain has already sent thousands of anti-tank weapons to Ukraine, although Nato nations have continued to rebuff pleas from Zelensky for tanks and fighter aircraft.
Mr Wallace told Sky News earlier this week: ‘There will be more lethal aid going into Ukraine as a result of today.
‘Ukraine needs longer-range artillery and that’s because of what the Russian army has been doing, which is now digging in and starting to pound these cities with artillery.
‘The best counter to that is other long-range artillery, so [Ukraine will] be looking for and getting more long-range artillery, ammunition predominantly.
‘They are also looking for armoured vehicles of some types — not tanks necessarily, but certainly protective vehicles, and more anti-air [weapons]. All of this will be forthcoming as a result of this conference.’
What are Starstreak missiles?
Starstreak High Velocity Missiles were designed to provide close air defence against conventional air threats such as fixed wing fighters and late unmasking helicopter targets.
The three dart payload maximises levels of lethality and accurate line of sight while laser guidance enables engagement of the smallest signature targets, which are extremely difficult to defeat and lock onto by traditional fire and forget missiles.
The missile is capable of being launched from lightweight land, sea and air platforms, from either automatic fire control systems.
It can be deployed quickly into operations and is easy to integrate into a force structure.
The Starstreak system is a shoulder-mounted missile that travels at more than three times the speed of sound to take down low-flying enemy aircraft
As soon as a target is detected the operator presses the trigger and launches the missile.
The rocket motor system accelerates the missile to greater than Mach 3 in a fraction of a second.
The missile then releases the three laser guided darts towards the target.
The laser beam riding guidance, which enables precision engagement of the smallest of targets, is immune to all known countermeasures.
The darts in flight cannot be decoyed by even the latest flares or Electronic Countermeasures.
The darts are designed to defeat both heavily armoured and light skin aerial targets.
On penetrating the targets the darts will inflict high levels of kinetic energy damage and each darts also has a fragmenting warhead which detonates inside the target to maximise lethality.