The British military could field a new missile as part of its HVM Starstreak point air defense system by 2012-13. The Thales UK Lightweight Multirole Missile (LMM) now in development is being designed to be able to be integrated into the present Starstreak system. A pre-production standard of the LMM should be ready by early 2010, although Thales and the Defense Ministry have not yet agreed the full production program.
The Defense Ministry and Thales Jan. 23 announced that they had finally contracted for a £200 million ($271 million) HVM Starstreak support deal, which will see the manufacturer maintain and upgrade the system, including the Stormer self-propelled version.
The Air Defense Availability Project (ADAPT) covers the period until 2020, when the HVM Starstreak is due to be withdrawn from service. The LMM would – however – continue in service.
While agreement was reached on the support program in the second quarter of 2008, the conclusion of the deal was held up by the Defense Ministry’s equipment examination during the latter half of 2008, which scrutinized expenditure.
The partnering agreement may save the ministry up to £100 million over the remainder of the system’s service life, suggests a Defense Ministry official. It also provides Thales with a steady flow of business for its Belfast facility over the coming decade.
ADAPT includes the introduction of an improved standard of dart for the Starstreak. This has aerodynamic refinements, offering an extended range and a better hit performance against small targets – such as unmanned aerial vehicles, and crossing targets. Other improvements include automatic target tracking, integrated training, and enhanced operator and command consoles. A full-blown mid-life improvement program for Starstreak was shelved by the Defense Ministry in 2004, but ADAPT likely reintroduces at least some of the originally planned upgrades.
Picture Credit Thales UK