On Friday, a video was released showing a helicopter of the Mi-28N breaking off the rear of the plane. The incident took place via Luhansk in eastern Ukraine. A source at the British Ministry of Defence, cited by the Times, believes the video shows the use of the Starstreak system, adding that the system has been in use in Ukraine for almost a week. Even high-ranking sources in the defence industry, which investigated the video, believe this weapon was used.

 

The Starstreak portable air defence systems manufactured by the British company Thales Air Defence are the most technically advanced weapons offered to Ukraine by the United Kingdom, although it is not stated how many units were donated. Starstreak is designed to destroy fighter jets and helicopters that can be destroyed from a distance of up to 7 km. The projectiles he fired reach a speed of over 3 Mach and are thus the fastest surface-to-air short-range missiles in the world.

 

Unlike other anti-aircraft missiles, this is not a fire and forget system. The projectile is divided by the air into three darts and must be lasered to the target by the operator on the ground. This makes it practically impossible for enemy aircraft to use countermeasures such as flares to deflect the missile since, unlike the American Stinger, it does not react to infrared.

 

 

Operating this weapon is difficult. Soldiers must score 1,000 successful hits in the simulator before they can fire a real rocket. According to “The Times”, the British Ministry of Defence has sent a team of the best British star-strike operators along with a simulator to train the Ukrainians. The goal was to prepare them during an intensive course in two to three weeks, but the successful use of the Starstreak system suggests that the soldiers have learned to operate it within one or two weeks.

 

“It is a step-change in the capability of Ukrainians because its range is far greater. It’s absolutely lethal and you can bring down anything from a MiG to battle helicopters — and it’s incredibly accurate,” an industry source was quoted by The Times.