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How Russia’s Helicopters Are Being Slaughtered in Ukraine

Ukraine NLAW
NLAW missile. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Putin has a serious problem: Russian helicopters are dying in Ukraine – Reports indicate a British-made anti-aircraft missile was used to shoot down a Russian helicopter in Ukraine for the first time.

Times of London report on Friday said a video was thought to show the Starstreak high-velocity missile system striking a Russian Mi-28N attack helicopter over the Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine.

The video, whose authenticity Insider couldn’t confirm, appears to show a missile hitting a helicopter, causing its tail to snap off.

Starstreak is Britain’s most advanced operated portable missile system, and the UK sent a consignment to Ukraine in March along with another shipment of Next Generation Light Anti-tank Weapons, or NLAWs.

An unnamed British Ministry of Defense source and other “senior defense-industry sources” told The Times they 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 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 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.

Though British operators had planned to spend two to three weeks intensively training Ukrainian troops, its use this week would suggest soldiers had learned how to use it in just one or two weeks, the paper said.

The British Ministry of Defense source told The Times the anti-aircraft system had been deployed for nearly a week.

Russia’s ambassador to the UK told the Russian news agency TASS on Saturday that British weapons supplies to Ukraine were “legitimate targets” for the Russian army.

Ambassador Andrey Kelin said supplying arms such as Starstreak missiles was “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.”

Alia Shoaib is a junior news reporter on the weekend team, based in London.

Written By

Alia Shoaib is a junior news reporter on the weekend team, based in London.