Home Europe UK eyeing donation of STARStreak air defense systems to Ukraine

UK eyeing donation of STARStreak air defense systems to Ukraine

Illustration: UK MOD file photo

The United Kingdom is evaluating the donation of STARStreak short-range air defense (SHORAD) systems to Ukraine, to enable it to improve its defense against Russian aircraft.

This was confirmed by UK defense secretary Ben Wallace who told Members of Parliament that the defense department has taken the decision “to explore the donation of STARStreak high-velocity manned portable anti-air missiles, to allow the Ukrainian force to better defend their skies.”

He noted that the system “remained within the definition of defensive weapons,” adding that the international community had donated over 900 man-portable air defense missiles to Ukraine, as well as thousands of anti-tank guided weapons.

The UK has been one of the leading suppliers of defensive systems to Ukraine in light of the Russian invasion that began on February 24. The defense secretary revealed that as of March 9, the UK had delivered 3,615 new light anti-tank weapons (NLAWs), with more to be delivered.

The UK will also be starting the delivery of a small consignment of anti-tank Javelin missiles as well, it was added.

The STARStreak systems that could be delivered to Ukraine entered service with the British Army and Royal Marines in 1997. The system’s high velocity and lightweight multi-role missiles can intercept air threats including fast jets, attack helicopters and unmanned air systems in a matter of seconds.

Donating defensive systems to Ukraine has proven less complicated, and controversial, than the delivery of offensive platforms, such as Poland’s offer to transfer MiG-29 fighters to Ukraine.

On March 8, the Polish defense ministry said it was ready to deliver the aircraft to the Ramstein Air Base and place them at the disposal of the government of the United States.

In response to Poland’s announcement, the US defense department took issue with the proposed plan that would place the decision of handing over the fighters to Ukraine in America’s hands.

“As we have said, the decision about whether to transfer Polish-owned planes to Ukraine is ultimately one for the Polish government,” Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby said, adding that Poland’s proposal was “not a tenable one.”