Ben Wallace says UK plans to send Starstreak anti-air missiles to Ukraine as Russians change tactics

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Defense Secretary Ben Wallace announced today that the UK plans to send Ukraine deadly anti-aircraft missiles to fight Russia’s “indiscriminate and murderous” bombing campaign.

Mr Wallace told the House of Commons the government is “investigating” into donating UK-made Starstreak high-velocity weapons that can be transported by humans.

He said Ukraine’s anti-aircraft capabilities “need to be strengthened” as Russian troops “change their tactics” to focus more on shelling and air strikes.

The cabinet minister revealed that Britain has now given Ukraine 3,615 light anti-tank weapons, as well as other small arms and ammunition.

The defense minister also said that Russia has achieved only one of its key objectives since it began its invasion nearly two weeks ago.

Video shows a Ukrainian fighter firing a British-made NLAW missile at a Russian armored vehicle in Ukraine

Video shows a Ukrainian fighter firing a British-made NLAW missile at a Russian armored vehicle in Ukraine

Defense Secretary Ben Wallace told the House of Commons this afternoon that the government is “investigating” donating UK-made Starstreak high-speed man-portable missiles to Ukraine. The missile system is pictured above:

Starstreak surface-to-air missiles are designed to defend against conventional airborne threats such as fixed-wing combat aircraft and helicopters

Starstreak surface-to-air missiles are designed to defend against conventional airborne threats such as fixed-wing combat aircraft and helicopters

Starstreak surface-to-air missiles are designed to defend against conventional airborne threats such as fixed-wing combat aircraft and helicopters

The weapon can be launched from lightweight land, sea or air platforms and can be released as soon as a target is detected - there is no waiting time for 'lock on'

The weapon can be launched from lightweight land, sea or air platforms and can be released as soon as a target is detected - there is no waiting time for 'lock on'

The weapon can be launched from lightweight land, sea or air platforms and can be released as soon as a target is detected – there is no waiting time for ‘lock on’

Britain has supplied Ukraine with anti-tank light weapons known as NLAWs.  The UK has now donated 3,615 of the guns.  A member of the Ukrainian Territorial Forces is pictured today with an NLAW in the outskirts of Kiev

Britain has supplied Ukraine with anti-tank light weapons known as NLAWs.  The UK has now donated 3,615 of the guns.  A member of the Ukrainian Territorial Forces is pictured today with an NLAW in the outskirts of Kiev

Britain has supplied Ukraine with anti-tank light weapons known as NLAWs. The UK has now donated 3,615 of the guns. A member of the Ukrainian Territorial Forces is pictured today with an NLAW in the outskirts of Kiev

What are Starstreak missiles?

The Starstreak high-velocity surface-to-air missile is designed to defend against conventional airborne threats such as fixed-wing combat aircraft and helicopters.

It is made in Belfast by the company Thales Air Defense.

The missile has a range of more than 7 km and has a payload of three darts.

It uses a laser beam guidance system that the manufacturer says is “immune to all known countermeasures.”

The weapon can be launched from lightweight land, sea or air platforms and can be released as soon as a target is detected – there is no waiting time for ‘lock on’.

It accelerates to a speed of over Mach 3 – about 2300 mph – in a ‘split second’.

Once at full speed, it releases its three ‘hittiles’ which are then guided towards the target.

It is a human-portable air defense system – known by its acronym MANPADS.

The missiles are similar to the US-made Stinger already used by Ukrainian forces.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky leaned on the UK and other Western allies for military support.

He allegedly presented Boris Johnson with a “shopping list” of weapons requests, with Britain sending anti-tank missiles almost daily.

Ukraine has urged the West to impose a no-fly zone, but the UK and others have ruled out the move as it could lead to a full-blown war between Russia and NATO.

Wallace announced this afternoon that Britain wants to bolster Ukraine’s air defenses.

“As the conflict intensifies, the Russians are changing their tactics and so should the Ukrainians,” he told the Commons.

“We all see the horrific devastation inflicted on civilian areas by Russian artillery and air raids – indiscriminate and murderous.

It is therefore vital that Ukraine maintains its ability to fly and be able to suppress Russian air strikes.

To date, the international community has donated more than 900 portable air defense missiles and thousands of anti-tank guided weapons of various types, as well as several small arms.

“But the capacity needs to be strengthened, so in response to Ukrainian requests, the government has taken the decision to investigate the donation of high-velocity portable anti-aircraft missiles from Starstreak.

“We believe that this system will remain within the definition of defensive weapons, but will allow the Ukrainian forces to better defend their airspace.

“We will also increase the supply of rations, medical equipment and other non-lethal military aid.”

Starstreak surface-to-air missiles can be used against fighter jets and fixed-wing helicopters.

They are similar to American-made Stinger missiles already used by Ukrainian forces.

Wallace stressed that the UK only supplies Ukraine with “defensive systems.”

The government had initially supplied Ukraine with 2000 NLAWs, but that number has continued to grow.  An NLAW anti-tank missile is fired during a training exercise with British troops

The government had initially supplied Ukraine with 2000 NLAWs, but that number has continued to grow.  An NLAW anti-tank missile is fired during a training exercise with British troops

The government had initially supplied Ukraine with 2000 NLAWs, but that number has continued to grow. An NLAW anti-tank missile is fired during a training exercise with British troops

Defense Secretary Ben Wallace announced today that the UK plans to send Ukraine deadly anti-aircraft missiles to fight Russia’s “indiscriminate and murderous” bombing campaign.

Wallace said Ukraine’s anti-aircraft capabilities “need to be strengthened” as Vladimir Putin’s forces “change their tactics” to focus more on shelling and airstrikes

A view shows buildings damaged by recent shelling during the Russian invasion of Ukraine in Kharkiv, Ukraine, March 8

A view shows buildings damaged by recent shelling during the Russian invasion of Ukraine in Kharkiv, Ukraine, March 8

A view shows buildings damaged by recent shelling during the Russian invasion of Ukraine in Kharkiv, Ukraine, March 8

The government pledged in January to send military aid to Ukraine, including weapons systems and items such as body armor and ration packs.

“The initial delivery would be 2,000 new anti-tank light weapons (NLAWs), small arms and ammunition,” Wallace said.

“In response to further aggression from Russia, we have now increased that offer. I can inform the House that as of today we have delivered 3,615 NLAWs and are still delivering more.

‘Soon we will also start supplying small anti-tank Javelin missiles.’

Wallace also told MPs that it is the UK’s assessment that Russia has failed to achieve the overwhelming majority of its invasion objectives.

“Of the initial Russian targets, I can inform Parliament that we believe they have achieved only one,” he said.

“While Russian forces control Cherson, Melitopol and Berdyans’k in southern Ukraine, they are currently encircling the cities of Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkov and Mariupol, but they are not in control of them.

“In addition, their first day target of the Ukrainian air defense has failed, preventing total air dominance.”

Wallace told the House of Commons that the estimated number of dead or injured in Ukraine is now more than 1,000.

He said: ‘The actual figure is expected to be much higher and I fear worse will come.

“It is for that reason that the UK will increase its funding for Ukraine to £220 million, including £120 million in humanitarian aid.”

The defense minister said that “the threats from the Kremlin can do us no harm” as long as the nations are “united.”

“I know that many of our constituents and our colleagues are afraid of what happens next,” he said.

President Putin and the Kremlin continue to threaten countries that provide aid to Ukraine. Their military campaign will, I fear, become bolder and more arbitrary.

“But it is my firm belief that our strength to stand up to such bullying comes from our alliances.

We must draw strength from the peoples across Europe who stand shoulder to shoulder to protect our values, our freedom, our tolerance, our democracy and our free press. That’s our shield.’

He said Ukraine is now entering its “darkest hour,” but Putin “would and can have no doubt that the international community is united against his actions.”

Wallace told MPs he has put more than 1,000 British troops on standby to help support the humanitarian response to the invasion of Ukraine’s neighbours.

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