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The Engagement Decision

When the team chief or gunner has made an identification of a target as hostile, or (under certain conditions) as unknown, and all other requirements for engagement are met, the team chief makes the engagement decision.


The mission of the Stinger team is to protect the unit which it is supporting from attack by aircraft. To be successful in their mission, the team members must work together as a team. In this chapter the actions and decisions made by the team chief and the gunner during an engagement sequence are explained. These actions and decisions must be understood by both team members prior to and during an engagement.


The basic combat unit is the Stinger team. The team consists of a team chief and a gunner. Both team members are trained as gunners and in communications, target detection, and aircraft recognition. During periods of intense air activity, both may act as gunners to increase the rate of fire. A basic load of six Stinger weapons (four weapon-rounds and two missile-rounds) are carried by each team, initially, during combat operations. Resupply will normally be with Redeye (until full Stinger fielding is accomplished). Stinger teams supporting maneuver units provide such units with an additional means of air defense.


The Stinger teams are commanded and controlled by the section chief. The section chief controls his teams during field operations through use of a detailed TSOP. This method of control is used because the teams are usually located at long distances from the section chief's command post. Therefore, direct and personal supervision of each team normally is not possible. The link between the section chief and his teams is a tactical radio net. Over this net the section chief maneuvers his team and obtains information on their status and location. He also modifies their state of readiness by changing the air defense warning and controls their freedom to fire by use of WCS and fire control orders. Further details on command and control are found in FM 44-18. The fire control orders used by team chiefs are shown in the illustration.


The Stinger Mission

Method of Engagement


The Stinger team chief is responsible for the decision to engage. He must make the decision based on rules of engagement contained in the unit TSOP and with criteria given to him by the section chief. In addition to identifying the target, he is responsible for selecting the method of engagement to be used and selecting the specific target to be engaged.

In the event that the gunner is alone, he engages the most threatening target first.


The method used to engage aircraft depends upon their number. A multiple target raid is a raid by two or more aircraft flying the same course, at the same speed, less than 1,000 meters apart. All other raids are single target raids.


All single target raids are engaged using a SHOOT-LOOK-SHOOT technique of fire. This method is the firing of a first missile (SHOOT) as soon as the requirements for an engagement are met, then an evaluation (LOOK) of the first missile to see if it hit the target. A second (SHOOT) missile will be fired if the first does not hit the target or appears to have failed to achieve guided flight. When the gunner fires his missile, the team chief will observe the flight of the missile, make the kill evaluation and, if necessary and time permits, launch his missile.


Multiple aircraft raids are engaged using a SHOOT-NEW TARGET-SHOOT technique of fire. This requires the launching of as many missiles as possible at successive aircraft in the raid. When practical, fire coordination within a team will be on voice command of the team chief. When faced with multiple targets of equal threat, both team members will engage targets. The team chief should direct the gunner to fire at the lead or right aircraft in the primary sector of search. The team chief engages the trailing or left hostile target. Fire will be withheld if friendly and hostile aircraft are closely intermixed. (For further details, refer to FM 44-18 and your unit TSOP.)


When the gunner detects the target or receives information from the team chief on the target's location, he will attempt to acquire the target in the sight. He is assisted by the team chief in acquiring the correct target. When tracking has been established, the gunner interrogates the aircraft, continues tracking, and may activate while waiting for an engagement command. The team chiefs engagement command releases the gunner to fire when the gunner decides that the aircraft meets the technical requirements for a successful engagement. Several essential elements of the engagement sequence must be met before the gunner can fire his weapon. These elements are as follows:

  • The target is being tracked smoothly.

  • The target has been identified as hostile (or unknown).

  • The target has been determined to be within range (see chapter 6).

  • The weapon has been activated.

  • The IR acquisition tone has been received.

  • The team chief has given the engagement command.

  • The seeker has been uncaged and IR acquisition tone is clear and steady.

  • Superelevation and lead have been applied.


    When the team chief has made a firm decision, he will issue an engagement command to the gunner. The command must include the words "hostile" and "engage." The engagement command is--





    The following situations show how the Stinger team chief uses his prescribed rules to make an engagement decision. It is critical that this decision be timely and accurate. To accomplish this, the team chief must thoroughly understand the rules of engagement and control measures applicable to the Stinger system. In the following four situations, place yourself in the position of a Stinger team chief.

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