Starstreak Multi-role Missile- not just a SAM
Full credit to Mike Sparks of the 1st Tactical Studies Group for alerting me to the recent trials of Starstreak
The Starstreak missile system manufactured by Thales (formerly Shorts Missile Systems) was adopted by the British army as an air defence system in 2000. One of the more novel features of this system is that it attacks aircraft with three high velocity APHE "darts".
Recently trials have been conducted using this missile against ground targets. The results were surprising and impressive. In brief, the Starstreak darts can each penetrate over a metre of armour (presumably RHA) at a range of 6000m - nearly twice the range of a TOW. While TOW takes 21 seconds to reach 3,750m Starstreak takes less than 5 seconds to reach 6000m.
This "new" class of weapon needs a designation. "HVGM" is what it is, but also for what it does. ADAT has been used -ATAD is Ok-ish, but I like "A4GM"- Anti-Armour/Anti-Aircraft Guided Missile
Like TOW, Starstreak uses SACLOS guidance. The operator keeps his target in the cross-hairs and course corrections are automatically transmitted to the missile. Whereas TOW uses a command wire, Starstreak uses a laser beam, but from the operator's point of view the only difference will be the reduced flight time of the missile and that his targets may sometimes be airborne.
The Starstreak missile is a shade lighter than a TOW missile. Given that Starstreak is man-portable, while a TOW launcher weighs over 200lbs it is reasonable to deduce that the control equipment is much lighter.
Therefore any vehicle that can mount a TOW can mount a Starstreak.
Mounting Starstreak on a APC or IFV instead of TOW gives a considerably more capable and versatile system that can kill tanks, jets, armoured helicopters and destroy buildings. Starstreak has nearly twice the range and a fraction of the flight time, making it harder for the target to deploy countermeasures or counter-fire.
The turret of a vehicle that mounts Starstreak will need to have a laser. Correctly designed this can also serve as a range-finder for a OCSW or an autocannon using Programmable Fused ammo. Such a laser can also designate targets for laser-homing projectiles such as FFAR, Hellfire, Copperhead, Paveway or Maverick.
"Why not a 1-man shoot-on-the-move 20-40mm autocannon turret and a co-axial rail/launcher that aim along with the autocannon that could fit a Starstreak or 2.75" Hydra-70mm rocket pod on a "Light Strike Vehicle" as Colonel MacGregor likes to call it?
A M113A3 Gavin or M973A2 Ridgeway with RPG resistant applique armor, band tracks, infrared camouflage and hybrid electric "stealth" drive with 600 mile range? Flex-Cell drop/run-over fuel bladders ("Camel-Backs for tanks") can increase range to another 600 miles.
Inside would be space for a 9-man infantry squad with all kinds of weaponry, carts and bikes.
The point is that the 1-man turret doesn't "smother" the infantry in back by 2 guys who want to be tankers as takes place on the Bradley and will soon take place on the USMC AAAV; the vehicle is commandable by the INFANTRY leader from the back top troop hatch with a decent field of view without safety fears of the turret slamming into him.
A helmet-mounted sight allows the Track Commander to aim and shoot his turret's weaponry without having to duck down inside to press his eye against an optical sight which is usually the rationale for the 2 man turret's gunner. If he has to button up to evade enemy airbursts, the TC can see more from his helmet TV display than an optic, anyway.
The point is that this idea that a specialized AT or ADA vehicle will be there when needed to shoot down aircraft or kill tanks is a bunch of bunk. If you look like a tank and act like a tank you are likely run into a tank and you better damn well be able to kill a tank.
"Starstreak" would give us nearly point/shoot and blast capability against both aircraft and enemy tanks as a self-defensive capability far better than relying on a few "tank hunters" or ADA vehicles.
Starstreak can penetrate through over 3 feet of RHA armor, and the ability to laze could be tweaked to not just beam ride for it, but also laser guided Hydra-70mm rockets, rangefind in general and target designate for bombs dropped from and guns fired from aircraft (CAS fix). We can do this all in a compact package that will not smother the infantry in the back nor heavy up the LSV/IFV so it's no longer fixed and rotary-wing air-transportable or 3D maneuver."
Such a one man turret could be armed with a co-axial MG, a PF-30mm cannon and pylons to take either FFAR or Starstreak pods. Such an armament system would integrate nicely with the Tank-CIWS system that has been proposed.
The Tank-CIWS would be mounted behind the troop hatch and be raised up on a stalk for a 360° field of fire. The LIDAR, Millimetric Radar and Thermal Seeker of the Tank-CIWS would search for targets or threats while the systems on the one-man turret would be used to attack and designate.
Minimum range of the Starstreak is given as 300m though whether this is an arming range or control range is not stated. Given the high launch velocity of the Starstreak (0-Mach 3 in under a second) it probably still has sufficient accuracy and kinetic energy to prove effective against targets closer than 300m.
For close range operations such as MOUT an idea that does suggest itself is "Dumb-streak" using the Starstreak motor to propel an adapted 120mm tank or mortar shell.
A system such as Starstreak (and Tank CIWS for that matter) would also prove useful mounted on vehicles such as the Tankitas and M8s
So far I have mainly discussed Starstreak as a vehicle mounted weapon for mechanized infantry platoons, but Starstreak is also man-portable and capable of being mounted on light vehicles. What other applications might Starstreak be used in?
I don't see Starstreak totally replacing Stinger SAMs and Javelin ATGW. These latter systems are "fire and forget" while Starstreak is "fire and guide". A company anti-armour section will probably have both Javelin and Starstreak. The systems are complimentary. Likewise, an anti-armour platoon or company should be armed with Hellfire or EFOGM compatible TOW systems but might have one or two vehicles with the dual-purpose Starstreak for both AT and organic ADA.
Elsewhere I've suggested squads of Stinger teams mounted on 25mm cannon armed M113s and suggested that in the absence of an air threat such forces would still prove useful, since the 25mm gun is effective against lightly armoured tanks. Stinger teams that are also practiced with Starstreak will be even more useful.