Thales is not openly showing its latest Starstreak II very short-range air defence system (VSHORADS), but its representatives are quietly briefing potential customers about the new system.

The existing Starstreak high-velocity missile has been in service with the UK army since 1997 but the growing threat from unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) and fleeting ‘pop-up’ targets such as attack helicopters has partly prompted the decision to develop the new variant.

Although Thales is reluctant to give details, the new missile’s range is increased beyond the 7km of its predecessor. It also features improved guidance precision. The company says that the laser beam-riding missile (whose warhead consists of three explosive darts that fly in a 1.5m-wide formation to increase the likelihood of hitting the target) is particularly suitable for engaging small signature targets such as UAVs that can not be engaged by traditional ‘fire and forget’ VSHORADS.

Starstreak II was announced in September and is moving into the final proving/qualification phase. This is on schedule to be concluded next year, with production following on. Since September, Thales reports there have been “serious discussions” with potential customers, including several in the Middle East. Existing Starstreak missiles can be upgraded to the new standard.

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Source: Flight Daily News