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Marines’ missile multi-million-pound boost to protect commandos from air attack

26 October 2018
More than £90m is being pumped into current and future missiles to shield the Navy and Royal Marines against threats in the sky and on the surface.

The MOD is upgrading the High Velocity Missile – already in service with the Army and Commandos – as well as the new Martlet, due to be carried by Wildcat helicopters as well as ground troops, so they can cope with the latest threats on the field of battle.

Under the £93m Future Air Defence Availability Project, Thales UK in Belfast will work to ensure the enhancements are ready for use on the front line by the next decade.

The STARStreak HVM is used by 3 Commando Brigade’s Air Defence Troop


Those improvements include thermal imaging which ensures the High Velocity Missile system can be used 24 hours a day and 'Friend or Foe' identification, helping to identify enemy targets quickly and hopefully prevent friendly fire incidents.

The STARStreak HVM is used by 3 Commando Brigade’s Air Defence Troop. It is propelled from a launcher – which can be fired over the shoulder – before its main motor, known as the ‘bus’ kicks in, boosting the missile to speeds over three times the speed of sound.

It burns out after less than a second, but three small darts separate from the body and are guided on to the target by the operator using a joystick to direct a laser beam.

As for the Martlet or Lightweight Multirole Missile, it’s been designed for use in the air and on the ground. Wildcats will use them against small surface craft, ground troops can use them against light/medium armour. It’s due to enter service around 2019.

The upgrades will sustain around 100 jobs.

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