FIM-92A Stinger Weapons System: RMP & Basic

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 soldier 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 was also be employed by the Pedestal-Mounted Stinger Air Defense Vehicle and the Light Armored Vehicle, Air Defense Variant (LAV-AD) during the 1990s.

The Stinger anti-aircraft missile was designed to hit incoming aircraft better than 60 percent of the time. But if it had been placed in service as originally designed, it would actually have achieved hits only 30 percent of the time when operated by soldiers in combat units. The Stinger's problems were eventually corrected.

The first combat use of the basic STINGER weapon system by U.S. troops occurred with the deployment of 27 STINGER teams in the U.S. airborne assault against Cuban and local forces on the Caribbean island of Grenada on 25 October 1983. The system also proved very effective against first line Soviet combat aircraft in Afghanistan. According to a comprehensive 1999 study [by Alan J. Kuperman], some of the estimated 900 to 1,200 Stingers delivered to Afghanistan in the 1980s were diverted while en route through Pakistan. Deployed during both Operation Just Cause and Operation Desert Storm [ODS], the STINGER-RMP provided highly mobile and lethal short range air defense protection to the maneuver forces during the Gulf War. There were also 66 OH-58C Army scout helicopters equipped with air-to-air STINGER deployed during ODS.

Even before reaching the theater of operation, the STINGER was employed in a defensive posture. Soldiers from Headquarters Company, 4th Battalion, 68th Armor, 24th Infantry Division were detailed with the Military Sealift Command's ship Regulus to assist loading, unloading and escorting the ship's load of more than 700 tanks, fighting vehicles, and trucks headed for Saudi Arabia. They were responsible for defending the ship once it entered the Persian Gulf. Among the weapons available for the defense of the ship were STINGER missiles. Because of the lack of targets for most of the air defense weapons deployed to SWA, however, no STINGER-RMP missiles were fired during Operation Desert Storm.

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 two upgrades to the Stinger-RMP (reprogrammable microprocessor) missile correct known operational deficiencies. Manpower and readiness problems plagued the Army force modernization program in the early 1980's. It seemed that whenever a new system was put into the hands of the soldier, actual field performance often failed to match the standards predicted during its development. The Stinger anti-aircraft missile, for example, was designed to hit incoming aircraft better than 60 percent of the time. But if it had been placed in service as originally designed, it would actually have achieved hits only 30 percent of the time when operated by soldiers in combat units. The Stinger's problems were eventually corrected. Operational deficiencies were discovered during testing of the Stinger-RMP missile in the late 1980s, and the Secretary of Defense directed the Army to correct the deficiencies and then operationally test the fixes. The proposed operational test, which consisted of 24 missile firings, was approved by DOT&E via the TEMP in 1991. The Stinger-RMP missile test program was suspended during OPERATION DESERT STORM, and the missile was rushed into the field in preparation for war. After the war, the Army proposed a two-phased upgrade program, Stinger-RMP Block I and Stinger-RMP Block II. The Stinger-RMP Block I missile consisted of hardware and software modifications, which address some of the observed operational deficiencies. The Stinger-RMP Block II will address remaining operational issues.

The Stinger-RMP Block I makes software and hardware changes, including a new roll frequency sensor, a small battery, and an improved computer processor and memory. The Block I missile upgrades the RMP missile by adding a ring laser gyro to eliminate the need to super elevate prior to firing. The Block I missile also increases the onboard processing capability and replaces the current battery with a lithium battery. Block I improves the accuracy and IRCCM capabilities of the missile. The Army proposes to field more than 10,000 Stinger-RMP Block I missiles that will remain in the inventory until at least 2014.

Stinger-RMP Block II improves both hardware and software, including an advanced imaging focal plane array, roll frequency sensor, new battery, signal processing, and advanced software. There are plans to produce approximately 9,500 Stinger-RMP Block II missiles. The Milestone III decision to authorize production of the Stinger-RMP Block II missiles in 2004 was to be supported by operational testing. The last approved TEMP is dated 1 March 1991. Fifteen Test events occurred between 1993-1996 to verify Stinger-RMP Block I hardware and software improvements. A TEMP revision dated January 27, 1995 was not approved by OSD.

The Fiscal Year 2001 Army budget request included decisions to restructure or "divest" a number of programs in order to provide some of the resources to support its transformation to achieve the ambitious deployment goals outlined in the October 1999 Army Vision. The restructured programs are the Crusader and the Future Scout and Cavalry System. The "divestitures" include Heliborne Prophet (Air), MLRS Smart Tactical Rocket (MSTAR), Stinger Block II, Command and Control Vehicle (C2V), Grizzly, Wolverine, and the Army Tactical Missile System Block IIA. Funding for these programs was reallocated to fund the Army Vision transformation strategy.

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.

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