More weapons will be sent to Ukraine, says Wallace

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace confirmed the UK has already delivered 3,615 anti-tank weapons, known as NLAWs, to the country.

09 March 2022

The United Kingdom is sending more weapons to Ukraine to help in the defensive effort against Russia’s invasion, the Defence Secretary has said.

Ben Wallace told MPs that the UK has delivered 3,615 anti-tank weapons and will shortly be supplying a “small consignment” of Javelin anti-tank missiles.

He also added: “In response to a Ukrainian request, the Government has taken the decision to explore the donation of Starstreak high-velocity manned portable anti-air missiles.

“We believe that this system will remain within the definition of defensive weapons but will allow the Ukrainian force to better defend their skies.”

The anti-tank weapons, known as NLAWs, are made by the Swedish company Saab. With a range of up to 600 metres, it is a portable, shoulder-mounted missile system weighing just 12.5 kilograms.

The British Army says the missile can destroy “any main battle tank in just one shot by striking it from above”.

Nick Reynolds, a research analyst for land warfare at the Royal United Service Institute (Rusi), told the PA news agency that the NLAW is “very simple” to use.

“You point and shoot. You could learn it in an afternoon”, he added.

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Personnel from the British Army use an NLAW anti-tank missile (UK MOD Crown copyright/PA)

Mr Wallace also said “small consignments” of Javelin anti-tank missiles would be supplied to Ukraine. This medium-range missile can strike targets at up to 2.5km away.

It is heavier than an NLAW, at 24.3kg, and is a “fire and forget” system, allowing the user to lock on to a target, fire and then focus on a different target.

Javelin has been supplied to Ukraine by the American military for several years, including 300 that were delivered in January.

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The Javelin is designed to destroy tanks and light armoured vehicles (UK MOD Crown copyright/PA)

Mr Reynolds told PA that the Ukrainian armed forces have therefore already been trained to use the system.

“The Ukrainians have been using it (Javelin) for a while… the US started providing it years ago.”

Unlike the NLAW and Javelin, Starstreak, which Ben Wallace said the UK is considering supplying, is an air defence missile.

Travelling at more than three times the speed of sound, according to the British Army, it can be shoulder-mounted or attached to a vehicle.

It was deployed during the London Olympics in 2012, positioned on rooftops near the Olympic stadium.

“Starstreak is a surface-to-air missile and it’s very effective”, Mr Reynolds said, but added that it is “more complicated” to use than Javelin.

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The Starstreak missile system (UK MOD Crown copyright/PA)

“I’d be curious about how they are planning to train Ukrainians to use it effectively… I have questions about usability and how quickly Ukrainians can be trained to use this system”.

Dr Jack Watling, a research fellow for land warfare at Rusi, also told PA that Starstreak has a “very heavy training burden… you have to be able to guide it in (to a target), which takes a lot of practice.”

The Ministry of Defence declined to elaborate on plans to supply Ukraine with Starstreak.

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