London's Rooftop Missile Sites Could Have Been Designed By Tony Stark

Those surface-to-air missile batteries that are being installed for the London Olympics must have been invented by Stark Industries. Each high-speed missile houses a trio of smaller projectiles — like a yroika doll of fiery, explosive death.

They're officially known as the Starstreak HVM (High Velocity Missile) system and are built by Belfast-based Thales Air Defense. These short-range missiles are laser-guided, which makes them impervious to infrared jamming and anti-radar missiles, and they're designed for close air defence against fixed-wing fighters and helicopters.

Every Starstreak is packaged in an individual firing tube that is loaded into an aiming unit. The operator employs a stabilised sight to track his target. Once the operator looses a Starstreak and it's safely clear of the firing tube, a second stage rocket kicks in and accelerates it to Mach 3.5. When the second stage is exhausted, the Starstreak unleashes a trio of 15-inch long, 900g, tungsten alloy mini-missiles, each armed with 450g of high explosive and a delayed action impact fuse. That ensures the mini-missile penetrates its target before exploding. These tiny death strikes are also guided by the operator, who uses a pair of targeting lasers to generate a 2D matrix to steer them.

The Starstreak has been in service since 1997, with additional aiming systems — a shoulder-mounted and a Lightweight Multiroll Launcher — introduced in 2000. While they've never actually been fired in combat, this still marks the first time since the end of WWII that the British have installed rooftop SAM turrets. And badass ones, at that. [Starstreak wiki - Reuters - CBC - Thales Group - Army Technology - British Army - h/t Wagner]

The Lightweight Multiroll Launcher Image: Army Technology

The Shoulder-Mounted Launcher Image: Army Technology

The armoured Starstreak is self-propelled Image: Army Technology

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