British Army deploys air defence assets to Poland and Ukraine

The United Kingdom has announced it is sending another powerfully reassuring signal to our NATO partners of the capabilities that can be brought to bear, should they ever be threatened by an aggressive neighbour, especially in this time of heightened anxiety following the Kremlin’s assault on Ukraine, just across the border.

The Defence Secretary announced last week that the UK would deploy the Sky Sabre medium-range, anti-air missile system to Poland with about 100 personnel to help protect her airspace.

He also announced that the UK would be providing Starstreak, a high velocity anti-aircraft missile system, to Ukraine which complements the other military aid already provided by the UK Armed Forces.

Troops from 16 Regiment Royal Artillery, who operate Sky Sabre have been preparing at their base, Baker Barracks on Thorney Island, to deploy their equipment out to Poland.

I can tell you that all the soldiers here today are looking forward to making this contribution.” Colonel Graham Taylor, Commander 7 Air Defence Group

Speaking of the deployment, the Commander of 7 Air Defence Group, Colonel Graham Taylor said, “In a bi-lateral agreement between the UK and Polish Governments, the British Army will provide a ground based air defence capability in a defensive posture to Poland to augment Poland’s own air defence assets and provide a more layered capability.

"A lot of the soldiers here are pretty well experienced in operations and have deployed all over the world during the last few years. I can tell you that all the soldiers here today are looking forward to making this contribution.”  

Sky Sabre, only recently introduced to the Army’s air defence arsenal, as its name implies is very much at the cutting edge of 21st century ground based anti-aircraft missile technology. It has provided a massive upgrade in medium-range air defence capability bringing with it unprecedented speed, accuracy, precision and target acquisition.

Its operators say it can hit an object the size of a tennis ball travelling at twice the speed of sound and as impressive as that sounds, Sky Sabre can do that to 24 separate targets travelling at supersonic speed simultaneously! Sky Sabre can be used to engage fast fighter jets, attack helicopters, drones, laser guided smart bombs and cruise missiles.

12 Regiment Royal Artillery operates High Velocity Missile (HVM) weapon systems, which utilises the Starstreak missile. Starstreak is another highly capable air defence weapon. In service with the British Army since 1997, this highly effective missile reaches speeds in excess of three times the speed of sound and is capable of taking down fast jets, drones and against helicopters it is particularly devastating. It is the individual light role shoulder launcher variant, which is ideal as a ‘pop up’ and fire capability that is being provided to Ukraine.