What is the Stormer missile system the UK is planning to send to Ukraine?

High-velocity weapons can take out low-flying planes and hit targets on the ground

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Britain is expected to announce it is sending Stormer armoured missile launchers to Ukraine, whose President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said Russia's large-scale offensive in the eastern Donbas region had begun.

The UK has increased the number and type of weapons it is sending to Ukraine as the war has developed and the latest batch would be the largest heavy weaponry despatched to the conflict.

Sending the Stormer system gives Ukraine weaponry with the capacity to take out aerial targets, including low-flying helicopters and planes, but which can also hit targets on the ground.

The Stormer, a high velocity missile (HVM) launcher, is manufactured by BAE Systems and needs three people to operate — a commander, operator and driver.

It fires Starstreak missiles, which can be fired from the vehicle’s turret or from a shoulder mount.

The missiles flying at more than three times the speed are suited to hitting low-flying jets.

Each missile breaks into three darts after being fired, meaning they can hit a target with successive strikes. Each dart is made up of impact fuses and explosive warheads.

Darts are released as the second stage of the motor burns out.

The missiles have a range of 1,500 metres to 5,500m and a height ceiling of 1,000m.

Missiles are guided by the operator, who tracks the target using a semi-automatic, line-of-sight laser beam.

The system has an operational range of 600 kilometres and a top speed of 50kph and the 12.7-tonne vehicles can be flown to the battlefield on C-17 transport planes.

Specifications

Stormer vehicle firing a Starstreak High Velocity Missile. Photo: Ministry of Defence
  • Length: 5.27m
  • Width: 2.76m
  • Height: 2.49m

The Starstreak missiles are also effective against ground targets. It is estimated that darts can smash through the front armour of battleground vehicles.

“The Stormer/Starstreak combination will be a huge boost to Ukraine’s fighting capability,” said Col Richard Kemp, a former commander of British troops in Afghanistan.

“It is an extremely effective, highly mobile combat vehicle that will do severe damage to any attempts at low-level attack by Putin’s air force.”

The British Army uses Stormer for short-range air defence.

It can be produced in several different configurations, including a two-person turret armed with a 25-millimetre cannon, ambulance or mine layer.

Updated: April 19, 2022, 10:18 AM
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