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​What are the 1,600 Air Defense and Strike Missiles UK is Giving to Ukraine

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Illustrative photo: Brimstone missile launch / Illustrative photo credit: MBDA
Illustrative photo: Brimstone missile launch / Illustrative photo credit: MBDA

In the largest-to-date package of military aid to Ukrainian Defense Forces, London is providing not only Storm Shadow but certain "strike missiles," too

British government has allocated a new, so far the largest package of military aid to the Armed Forces of Ukraine worth GBP 500 million, or roughly USD 617 million, bringing the total commitment of military supplies up to 3 billion pounds in 2024. The package is expected to arrive shortly and contain mostly ammunition and air defense systems, drones, and engineering support equipment. More details here.

One item in the list of provisions, announced by UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, remains unspecified: "more than 1,600 strike and air defense missiles" which are clearly separated from Storm Shadow land attack cruise missiles provided with this package as well. As for what kind of missiles will be delivered, there are a few options.

Read more: ​The UK Announces Largest-Ever Military Aid Package for Ukraine
AIM-132 ASRAAM / Defense Express / What are the 1,600 Air Defense and Strike Missiles UK is Giving to Ukraine
AIM-132 ASRAAM air-to-air missile can be launched from the ground by a special vaguely described launcher developed to meet Ukraine's needs in air defense against russian missile strikes / Image credit: MBDA

In the air defense domain, most likely those are additional ASRAAM (AIM-132) missiles that are used with the secret air defense system developed by British engineers specially for Ukraine and additional interceptors for the Stormer HVM mobile launcher which deploys Starstreak or Martlet missiles.

As for "strike missiles," based on what has been supplied previously, two weapons come to mind. The first is the very same Martlet, as a versatile missile, it can follow a laser beam to take down lightly armored vehicles with its relatively small explosive payload of 3 kg, the total weight of the missile is 13 kilograms.

Martlet, a.k.a. Lightweight Multirole Missile (LMM) / Defense Express / What are the 1,600 Air Defense and Strike Missiles UK is Giving to Ukraine
Martlet, a.k.a. Lightweight Multirole Missile (LMM) / Image credit: Thales Group

The second option is the Brimstone, a weapon that the UK has been providing to Ukrainian forces on a regular basis since the outbreak of the russian invasion. This 50-kg missile is designed to destroy tanks with high precision. Originally an air-to-ground missile, Ukrainian Defense Forces use it from ground-based launchers, both improvised and specialized, such as the Wolfram on Supacat chassis.

Depending on the modification, Brimstone can defeat targets within 12 to 20 range in a "fire-and-forget" mode provided by its active radar homing head, remarkable for its ability to discern targets against the landscape background. Alternative is the Dual Mode employing semi-active laser guidance. Launched in a salvo, the missiles exchange information about their targets mid-flight so they don't hit the same one twice.

The exact type of air defense and strike missiles planned for delivery to Ukraine is yet to be announced officially.

Read more: ​What Ukrainians Do with French AMX-10RC APCs, Why It Does Not Work?