Country of origin
Weight with launcher
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
4x4 high mobility vehicle.
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.
air defense system was also deployed on various military platforms,
such as the
M6 Linebacker. It is also used on helicopters for air-to-air
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
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
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
FIM-92G improved version of the FIM-92D model.
FIM-92H indicates a FIM-92D model, that has been upgraded to
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.
Article by RAKESH NAIR
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