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FIM-92 Stinger

Man-portable air defense missile system

Stinger missile

The Stinger is a fire-and-forget type missile with an infrared homing

Entered service 1981
Missile length 1.52 m
Missile diameter 0.07 m
Fin span 0.09 m
Missile weight 10.1 kg
Weight with launcher 15 kg
Warhead weight 3 kg
Warhead type High explosive annular blast fragmentation
Range of fire (depending on the version) 4 - 8 km
Altitude of fire (depending on the version) 3.5 - 3.8 km
Guidance Infrared homing


   The FIM-92 Stinger is a shoulder-fired Man-Portable Air Defense System (MANPADS) developed by United States in the late 1970s. It was designed by General Dynamics and manufactured by Raytheon Missile Systems. The system is in service from 1981 (second generation) till now (fourth generation). The Stinger is designed to engage fast, low level, ground attack aircraft. The Stinger is also highly lethal against helicopters and transport aircraft.

   The Stinger is an improvement over the first generation Redeye missiles previously used against aerial targets. Comparing with its predecessor the Stinger has increased speed and range, improved resistance to countermeasures. It can also identify friendly aerial vehicles. The FIM-92 Stinger missile uses infrared homing. It has an operational range of 8 km.

   The hand held launcher unit consists of a launch tube, Battery Coolant Unit (BCU), separable gripstock assembly, sight assembly and a separate Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) interrogator. The BCU is used for targeting system, missile powering and for the cooling the Infrared (IR) detector before tge launch. It consists of battery and argon gas coolant. The launch tube, made of fiberglass, holds the Stinger missile. Both of its ends are sealed with breakable discs. Front disc is transparent for IR radiation.

   Sight assembly has lead insertion and super elevation apertures (gravity correction). Lead aperture assists the missile to reach target whereas super elevation gravity correction. Besides, a speaker and a vibrating unit is placed close to the user for target acquisition confirmation. The eyepiece peepsight is located at the rear of the sight system and helps the user for alignment. Interrogator unit and antenna are used to interrogate the incoming aircraft for friend/foe identification. The antenna is kept folded when inactive. The IFF interrogator is normally attached to the operator and connected to the Gripstock assembly via cable.

   Like most missiles, the Stinger missile consists of a guidance section, warhead section and a propulsion section. The guidance section constitutes a seeker nose, guidance assembly and control fins. Seeker tracks the IR source just after uncaged gyro and inflight. The signal is then processed by the guidance assembly and control signal is passed to the control surfaces. Missile battery comes in between guidance and warhead sections. The propulsion section includes flight motor and tail assembly with launch motor. Stinger uses solid fuel rocket motor for propulsion and includes a boost and sustain phase. The boost phase pushes the missile to a maximum speed after which it is sustained for flight to target source. The tail fins are in folded condition until launch. They are deployed on ejection from launch tube. Stinger missiles have a service life of 10 years and requires no maintenance or servicing during this period.

   Operation of the Stinger is outlined next. The missile is inserted into the launch tube. Firing operation also involves insertion of Battery Coolant Unit (BCU) into the handguard, which ejects a stream of argon gas into the system, powering the target acquisition unit and the missile. The BCU operates for about 45 seconds or until the launch and it is not reusable. The friend or foe identification is carried out before target engagement by connecting the system to an IFF interrogator. The launcher sight assembly is used to target aerial vehicles and the missile is fired using gripstock assembly. This starts the launch motor which pushes the missile out of the launch tube. The seeker identifies the source as the boost phase of propulsion starts. During the sustaining phase control fins are used to maneuver the missile towards the infrared source. On nearing/reaching the target the warhead ignites neutralizing the target.

   The Stinger can be fired by a single operator, but usually includes a spotter for faster target identification. In the US Army this team of 2 men are fitted with 6 Stinger missiles and use a HMMWV 4x4 high mobility vehicle.

   Since 1986 the Stinger was used during the Soviet War in Afghanistan by Afghan fighters. This air defense systems recommended itself exceptionally well. It has been reported that Stingers downed more than 250 Soviet aircraft and helicopters. Furthermore notwithstanding on the poor training of the Afghan fighters, more than 80% of the launches were successful. This air defense system was also used in a number of other wars around the world.

   The Stinger air defense system was also deployed on various military platforms, such as the Avenger and M6 Linebacker. It is also used on helicopters for air-to-air self-defense.




   FIM-92A is a basic model. It can reach targets at a maximum range of 4 km and at a maximum altitude of 3.5 km. Production of this model commenced in 1981. It is likely that production of this missile ceased in 1983;

   FIM-92B improved model. Infrared seeker head was replaced by a combined IR/UV seeker. As a result this missile is significantly more resistant to enemy countermeasures such as flares, and natural disturbances. This model also has increased range and altitude. It can reach targets at a maximum range of 4.8 km and at a maximum altitude of 3.8 km. Production of this model commenced in 1983 and ceased in 1987. Some sources report that only 600 FIM-92B missiles were produced;

   FIM-92C improved model. It has further improved resistance to countermeasures and interference. This missile has more powerful digital computing components. Furthermore its software could be quickly reprogrammed in order to respond to new types of countermeasures. Its maximum range and altitude are similar to the FIM-92B model. Development of this missile was completed in 1987. The FIM-92C was produced in large numbers. Until 1991 around 20 000 units were produced for the US Army alone;

   FIM-92D has some modifications in order to further increase resistance to interference;

   FIM-92E has significantly improved flight behavior. Also it has improved performance against small targets, such as drones and cruise missiles. Deliveries of this model began in 1995 and almost entire stock of the US Stingers was replaced by this model;

   FIM-92F is an improved version of the FIM-92E. It is a current production model;

   FIM-92G improved version of the FIM-92D model;

   FIM-92H indicates a FIM-92D model, that has been upgraded to FIM-92E standard;

   FIM-92J upgraded version in order to extend service life. Aging components of the missiles were replaced with new ones to extend service life for 10 years. Warhead of this model is fitted with a proximity fuse. It improves effectiveness against UAVs;

   Air Defense Missile Suppression (ADSM). It is a variant of the Stinger with an additional passive radar seeker. This missile can be also used against radar wave transmitters;

   AIM-92 Stinger is an air-to-air version, used on helicopters.


Rakesh Nair

   Article by RAKESH NAIR

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Stinger missile

Stinger missile

Stinger missile

Stinger missile

Stinger missile

Stinger missile

Stinger missile

Stinger missile

Stinger missile

Stinger missile

Stinger missile

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