Video appears to show a Russian attack helicopter being split in half by a British hi-tech missile fired by Ukrainian fighters
- A video appears to show a UK anti-aircraft missile shooting down a Russian helicopter in Ukraine.
- The UK reportedly sent a team of Starstreak operators to a secret location in a neighboring country to train Ukrainian forces.
- Russia’s ambassador to the UK said that British weapons supplied to Ukraine are “legitimate targets.”
A British anti-aircraft missile has been used to shoot down a Russian helicopter in Ukraine for the first time, reports say.
Footage shows the Starstreak high-velocity missile system striking a Russian Mi-28N attack helicopter over the Luhansk region, eastern Ukraine, causing its tail to snap off mid-air and splitting the aircraft in half.
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Starstreak is Britain’s most advanced operated portable missile system, and the UK sent a cosignment to Ukraine in March along with another shipment of Next Generation Light Anti-tank Weapons (NLAWs).
A British Ministry of Defense source told The Times of London that it believed the video showed Starstreak in action.
The weapon is guided onto its target by three laser beam darts, according to The Times. The missile accelerates to Mach 4 (3,000 mph) and is the fastest short-range missile in existence.
It can be fired from a stand or shoulder launcher and can strike targets up to 7km, or over 4 miles, away, the paper said.
Because of the complexity of using it, troops must have 1,000 successful hits on a simulator before they are allowed to launch a live missile.
To help Ukrainians master the weapon, the British Ministry of Defense sent a team of Starstreak operators and a simulator to a secret location in a neighboring country for training, The Times reported.
Although British operators had planned to spend two to three weeks intensively training Ukrainian troops, its use this week suggests that soldiers have learned how to use it in just one or two weeks, the paper said.
The British Ministry of Defense source told The Times that the anti-aircraft system had been deployed for nearly a week.
Russia’s ambassador to the UK told Russian news agency TASS on Saturday that British weapons supplies to Ukraine are “legitimate targets” for the Russian army.
Ambassador Andrey Kelin said that supplying arms such as Starstreak missiles is “destabilizing.”
“They exacerbate the situation, making it even bloodier. Apparently, those are new, high-precision weapons,” Kelin told the news agency.
“Naturally, our armed forces will view them as a legitimate target if those supplies get through the Ukrainian border.”