FIM-92 Stinger: Wikis


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FIM-92 Stinger USMC.JPG
A US Marine with a field radio relays the direction of aircraft approaching to the operator of an FIM-92 Stinger missile launcher.
Type Manportable surface-to-air missile
Place of origin United States United States
Service history
In service 1981–Present
Used by See Operators
Wars Falklands War, Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Angolan Civil War, Kargil War, Yugoslav Wars
Production history
Designer General Dynamics
Designed 1967
Manufacturer Raytheon Missile Systems
Unit cost US$38,000
Produced 1978
Variants FIM-92A, FIM-92B, FIM-92C, FIM-92D, FIM-92G
Specifications (FIM-92 Stinger)
Weight 15.2 kg
Length 1.52 m
Diameter 70 mm
Crew 1

Effective range 4,800 meters (15,750 ft)
Warhead weight 3 kg

Engine Solid Rocket Motor
Infrared homing
MANPADS, M6 Linebacker, AN/TWQ-1 Avenger, MQ-1 Predator, AH-64 Apache

The FIM-92 Stinger is a personal portable infrared homing surface-to-air missile developed in the United States and entered into service in 1981. Used by the militaries of the U.S. and by 29 other countries, the basic Stinger missile has to-date been responsible for 270 confirmed aircraft kills.[1] It is manufactured by Raytheon Missile Systems and under license by EADS in Germany, with 70,000 missiles produced. It is classified as a Man-Portable Air-Defense System (MANPADS).



Light to carry and easy to operate, the FIM-92 Stinger is a passive surface-to-air missile, shoulder-fired by a single operator, although officially it requires two. The FIM-92B can attack aircraft at a range of up to 15,700 feet (4,800 m) and at altitudes between 600 and 12,500 feet (180 and 3,800 m). The missile can also be fired from the M-1097 Avenger and M6 Linebacker. The missile is also capable of being deployed from HMMWV Stinger rack, and can be used by paratroopers. A helicopter launched version exists called Air-to-Air Stinger (ATAS).

The missile is 1.52 m long and 70 mm in diameter with 10 cm fins. The missile itself weighs 10.1 kg, while the missile with launcher weighs approximately 15.2 kg (33.5 pounds). The Stinger is launched by a small ejection motor that pushes it a safe distance from the operator before engaging the main two-stage solid-fuel sustainer, which accelerates it to a maximum speed of Mach 2.2 (750 m/s). The warhead is a 3 kg penetrating hit-to-kill warhead type with an impact fuze and a self-destruct timer.

In order to fire the missile, a BCU (Battery Coolant Unit) must be inserted into the handguard. This shoots a stream of argon gas into the system, as well as a chemical energy charge that enables the acquisition indicators and missile to get power. The batteries are somewhat sensitive to abuse, and only hold so much gas in them. Over time, and without proper maintenance, they are known to become unserviceable. The IFF antenna receives its power from a rechargeable battery. Guidance to the target is initially through proportional navigation and is then switched to another mode that directs the missile towards the target airframe instead of its exhaust plume.

There are three main variants in use: the Stinger basic, STINGER-Passive Optical Seeker Technique (POST), and STINGER-Reprogrammable Microprocessor (RMP).

The Stinger-RMP is so-called because of its ability to load a new set of software via ROM chip inserted in the grip at the depot. If this download to the missile fails during power-up, basic functionality runs off the on-board ROM. The four-processor RMP has 4K of RAM for each processor; since the downloaded code runs from RAM, there is not much space to spare, particularly for processors dedicated to seeker input processing and target analysis. The RMP has a dual-detector seeker: IR and UV. This allows it to distinguish targets from countermeasures much better than the Redeye, which was IR-only.


National Guard soldier training with a Stinger Missile Launcher.

Initial work on the missile was begun by General Dynamics in 1967 as the Redeye II. It was accepted for further development by the U.S. Army in 1971 and designated FIM-92; the Stinger appellation was chosen in 1972. Because of technical difficulties that dogged testing, the first shoulder launch was not until mid-1975. Production of the FIM-92A began in 1978 to replace the FIM-43 Redeye. An improved Stinger with a new seeker, the FIM-92B, was produced from 1983 alongside the FIM-92A. Production of both the A and B types ended in 1987 with around 16,000 missiles produced.

The replacement FIM-92C had been developed from 1984 and production began in 1987. The first examples were delivered to front-line units in 1989. C-type missiles were fitted with a reprogrammable electronics system to allow for upgrades. The missiles which received a counter-measures upgrade were designated D and later upgrades to the D were designated G.

The FIM-92E or Block I was developed from 1992 and delivered from 1995 (certain sources state that the FIM-92D is also part of the Block I development). The main changes were again in the sensor and the software, improving the missile's performance against smaller and low-signature targets. A software upgrade in 2001 was designated F. Block II development began in 1996 using a new focal plane array sensor to improve the missile's effectiveness in "high clutter" environments and increase the engagement range to about 25,000 feet (7,600 m). Production was scheduled for 2004, but Jane's reports that this may be on hold.

Since 1984 the Stinger has been issued to many U.S. Navy warships for point defense, particularly in Middle Eastern waters, with a three-man team that can strike for other billets when not conducting Stinger training or maintenance. In fact, until it was decommissioned in September 1993, the U.S. Navy actually had at least one dedicated Stinger Gunnery Detachment attached to Beachmaster Unit Two in Little Creek Virginia. The sailors of this detachment would deploy to various carrier battlegroups in teams of two to four sailors per ship as requested by Battle Group Commanders.


M6 linebacker launching Stinger missile

The Stinger's combat debut occurred on 21 May 1982, during the Falklands War fought between Britain and Argentina. Soldiers of the British Special Air Service had been clandestinely equipped with six missiles, although they had received very little instruction in their use. The sole SAS trooper who had received training on the system, and was due to train other troops, was killed in a helicopter crash on 19 May.[2] The very first Stinger fired in military operations shot down an Argentine Pucará ground attack aircraft.[3] Then on the 30 May at about 11.00 a.m., an Aerospatiale SA-330 Puma helicopter was brought down by another, also fired by the SAS in the vicinity of Mount Kent; six National Gendarmerie Special Forces were killed and eight more wounded.[4]

A Stinger missile being launched from the Avenger platform.

However, any subsequent shots were ineffective due to British troops' unfamiliarity with the weapon's recharging procedure.[citation needed] The main MANPADS used by both sides during the Falklands War was the Blowpipe missile.

The Central Intelligence Agency supplied nearly 500 Stingers (some sources claim 1,500–2,000) to the Mujahideen in Afghanistan during Operation Cyclone, the Soviet war in Afghanistan, in the 1980s. These are thought to have had a decisive impact on the war.[5] After the 1989 Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, the United States attempted to buy back the Stinger missiles, with a 55 million dollar program to buy back around 300 missiles (US$183,300 each).[6] The U.S. government collected most of the Stingers it had delivered, but some of them found their way into Iran, Qatar and North Korea.[7] The Reagan administration provided Stingers to UNITA anti-communist rebels in Angola the late 1980s. In both cases, efforts to recover missiles after the end of hostilities proved incomplete. The battery of a Stinger lasts for four or five years, so any weapons supplied in the 1980s would now be inoperative.[8] However, local indigenous version of Stinger missiles fielded by the Pakistani Army was used in the Kargil War and shot down an Indian Air Force Mi-8 Helicopter[citation needed] and a MiG-21 aircraft[citation needed], as well as damaging a Canberra reconnaissance aircraft[citation needed]. Pakistan has begun phasing out its inventory of the original American made models completely. The Pakistan indigenous Stinger missile is said to contain an improved IR seeker to better follow its intended target.[citation needed]

The U.S. inventory contains 13,400 missiles. The total cost of the program is $7,281,000,000.[9]

It is rumored that the United States Secret Service has Stinger missiles to defend the President, a notion that it has never dispelled; however, its plans favor moving the President to a safer place in the event of an attack rather than shooting down the plane, lest the missile hit innocents.[10]


See also



  • O'Halloran James C., and Christopher F. Foss (eds.). Jane's Land-Based Air Defence 2005–2006. Couldson, Surrey: Jane's Information Group, 2005. ISBN 0-7106-2697-5.

External links

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