The Ministry of Defence has contracted Thales to supply the UK Armed Forces with 200 additional STARStreak surface-to-air missiles, it's been confirmed.
The British Army has been a STARStreak MANPADS (Man-portable air-defence system) user since 1997.
A prime element of the UK's GBAD (Ground-Based Air Defence) capability, STARStreak missiles formed part of the London 2012 Olympic Games' security shield. Deployed by the British Army, their involvement was considered paramount in helping deter would-be terrorists from targeting the event.
To date, some 7,000 missiles have been produced in numerous versions but, so far, none have been launched operationally. Four feet seven inches long, the missiles are equipped with a trio of explosive sub-munitions and reach a maximum velocity of Mach 3.5 when in flight.
British Army STARStreaks
Currently, the British Army has around 150 STARStreak missile launchers in service, while South Africa has eight and, last year, the Royal Thai Army became the weapon's newest customer.
News of the 2013 British Army STARStreak missiles order was delivered by David Cameron, Prime Minister, at the recent Northern Ireland Investment Conference. It represents one component of the Force 2020 project - an ongoing British Army equipment review programme.
200 STARStreaks Order
‘Not only will this contract sustain jobs at our facilities in Northern Ireland, but it also demonstrates very clearly to our export customers the ongoing importance and trust that the UK MoD places in the STARStreak system and our design, manufacturing and support capabilities", said Thales Managing Director, David Beatty, in the firm's 200 STARStreaks order press release.
"We saw during the Olympics last year how important our air defence capability is", added Philip Dunne MP, the Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology. "This contract for 200 extra STARStreak missiles will not only provide our Armed Forces with a highly capable weapon, but it also secures hundreds of highly skilled defence jobs in Northern Ireland and should provide confidence to the export markets of the STARStreak system."