The Stinger missile, a full-dimensional protection weapon, is the Army's system for short-range air defense that provides the ground maneuver commander force protection against low-altitude airborne targets such as fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles, and cruise missiles. The Stinger is launched from a number of platforms: Bradley Stinger Fighting Vehicle, Bradley Linebacker, Avenger (HMMWV), and helicopters as well as Man Portable Air Defense (MANPADS).
The Stinger is a man-portable, shoulder-fired guided missile system which enables the Marine to effectively engage low-altitude jet, propeller-driven and helicopter aircraft. Developed by the United States Army Missile Command, the Stinger was the successor to the Redeye Weapon System. The system is a "fire-and-forget" weapon employing a passive infrared seeker and proportional navigation system. Stinger also is designed for the threat beyond the 1990s, with an all-aspect engagement capability, and IFF (Identification-Friend-or-Foe), improved range and maneuverability, and significant countermeasures immunity. The missile, packaged within its disposable launch tube, is delivered as a certified round, requiring no field testing or direct support maintenance. A separable, reusable gripstock is attached to the round prior to use and may be used again. STINGER will also be employed by the Pedestal-Mounted Stinger Air Defense Vehicle and the Light Armored Vehicle, Air Defense Variant (LAV-AD) during the 1990s.
During the 1960s the Marine Corps introduced its first lightweight shoulder fired surface-to-air missile, the Redeye. During June 1966 the Redeye school was activated at Marine Corps Base, 29 Palms California. By Sept. 1966, a Redeye platoon was placed in each stateside Marine division. This gave Marine commanders a viable air-defense capability that could be deployed to any area of the battlefield.
The Redeye missile served throughout the 1970's before giving way to the more technologically advanced Stinger missile in 1982. The Stingers "all aspect" engagement capability was a major improvement over the Redeye. In 1989 an improved Stinger, equipped with a reprogrammable microprocessor (RPM), was fielded by the Marine Corps. The RPM is a modular enhancement which allows the Stinger to engage and destroy more sophisticated air threats.
There are currently four configurations of the Stinger missile. They are: Stinger Basic, Stinger Passive Optical Seeker Technique (POST), Stinger Reprogramable Micro Processor (RMP), and Stinger RMP Block I.
The Air-to Air Stinger (ATAS) is an adaption of the man portable Stinger System. It is a light weight missile designed to engage low altitude targets. A major milestone in the improvement of the Air-to-Air Stinger (ATAS) Block-1 missile was demonstrated on 19 November 1996 at Yuma Proving Ground, AZ. An OH-58D piloted by CPT Bob Blanchett, US Army Test and Evaluation Command (TECOM), successfully acquired, tracked, engaged, and destroyed a QUH-1 drone helicopter deploying countermeasures at a range greater than 4500 meters. This firing also demonstrated the capabilities of the improved missile to successfully engage a target without the requirement for super- elevation.
All Air-to-Air Stinger (ATAS) Block II missiles will be modified existing Stinger RMP missiles. The Block II retrofit program will add the Block I modifications plus incoporate a starring IR focal plane array seeker, a new battery, and advanced signal processing capabilities. The new seeker will permit engagements of helicopters in clutter out to the kinematic range of the missile. The missile and launcher will be 1760 compatible. The Block II program will also extend shelf, improve accuracy and IRCCM capabilities, and will provide a full night capability.
The first Stinger Reprogrammable Micro Processor (RMP) missile was successfully fired by a Kiowa Warrior while acquiring the target through the seeker slaving mode at Yuma Proving Ground on 6 November 1997. This mode of acquiring the target dramatically simplifies the procedure and should decrease the acquisition/engagement time lines in most instances. Essentially, the system slews the Stinger missile's seeker to an off-axis position coincident with the Mast Mounted Sight's (MMS) line of sight (LOS). Considering the missile seeker's relatively small field of view, the capability to accurately direct the seeker onto a target being tracked by the MMS is a significant advantage. In practicality, the pilot no longer has to meticulously fly the missile to the target by aligning the center cross with the MMS LOS cue. He merely flies the aircraft to the "ballpark" of the MMS LOS and initiates first detent, allowing the seeker to slew to the target, uncage and begin tracking it. This capability will afford the greatest advantage while acquiring from a hover position in unstable wind conditions with the RMP missile. Seeker slaving is enabled by the Improved Master Controller Processor Unit (IMCPU) which is included with the digitized Kiowa Warriors. Non-digitized Kiowa Warriors may be equipped with seeker slaving by adding a card in the Integrated System Processor. Eventually, all Kiowa Warriors will gain seeker slaving as they are converted to the digital configuration.