Thales’ STARStreak Secures the Skies for London 2012
When one of the world’s most high-profile cities needed to protect the skies above the world’s most high-profile sporting event, the British Army turned toThales UK. During the London 2012 Olympics the STARStreak High Velocity Missile (HVM) system from Thales was a cornerstone of the Army’s close air defence capability and a key element of the air security plan for the Games.
STARStreak is the world’s fastest very-short-range (VSHORAD) missile. Its peak velocity of over Mach 3 means it can cover a kilometre in under a second. Targeting and full control of the 3 dart missiles is maintained by the operator, via the use of a laser beam, throughout the entire engagement. There are a number of options available for deploying STARStreak, including a Lightweight Multiple Launcher (LML), a tripod-based system that is easy to set up and which can provide immediate cover.
For London 2012, LMLs were deployed on two rooftops close to the Olympic Stadium, providing protection for the whole Olympic Park. The system was coordinated using Thales’s Air Defence Alerting Device (ADAD) to offer early detection and warning against any potential air threats.
“During the Olympic and Paralympic Games, London was briefly the world’s capital city. It hosted the greatest concentration of world leaders and monarchs, with over 160 in one place and at a predetermined time,” said Colonel Jon Campbell, Commander, Joint Ground Based Air Defence (GBAD).
“Both the home and international communities demanded that the Olympics were conducted in a safe and secure environment. From a GBAD perspective, the London 2012 air security plan was the most successful ever achieved in or by the UK, in terms of the Recognised Air Picture generated and the ability to respond proportionately to anything untoward within the London airspace.
Thales’s STARStreak missile system, and its Air Defence Alerting Device, were absolutely essential to this success”.
The UK has both the man-portable LML system for STARStreak and the self-propelled vehicle-based system. Following the award of the Air Defence Availability Project (ADAPT) to Thales UK in 2008, the support of all the UK’s STARStreak HVM equipment is guaranteed until 2020.
This multi-million pound contract also involved the development of a new fire control capability for the system, together with automatic target tracking and a new standard of missile.
STARStreak is very much at the forefront of UK air defence, and Thales UK is seeing significant interest from overseas customers in the various deployment systems; including RAPIDRanger system, a lightweight highly-automated vehicle-based weapon system capable of delivering a rapid reaction response to threats from the air.
Alex Cresswell, Vice President for Land Defence at Thales UK, said, “I am delighted that our system played such an important role in guaranteeing air safety around the Olympics in London. Thales is the only company in Europe to have the full range of Air Defence capabilities, from sensors through to effectors. I very much hope that we can provide other ally countries with the cost-effective and leading-edge capability that helped secure London 2012”.