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Stinger Training Concepts

To achieve a high state of proficiency, Stinger gunners must receive proper gunner training. If proficiency is to be maintained at an acceptable level, training must be standardized, increased, and scheduled at regular intervals.


The MTS is the most effective single training device for training Stinger gunners. MTS training must be supplemented by live-tracking exercises (especially low-flying helicopters) because of background IR discrimination training requirements. The units which have MTS facilities nearby and use them show a higher proficiency level, which is proportional to the amount of time spent tracking targets, than those who don't. It is critical that where MTS facilities are available, gunners receive regularly scheduled training (at least one full day) in Stinger weapon handling and tracking.

Some Stinger sections do not have ready access to an MTS. In this case, they must use other methods to train in target engagement. Use of an RCMAT can meet the requirements for Stinger gunners to simulate engagement of targets. If the section is located near a military air base or civilian airport, it can receive meaningful training in tracking live aircraft. Money restraints restrict opportunities for Stinger sections to have tactical military aircraft for training purposes. The Stinger training manager or trainer can overcome this problem by using some innovations. For example, the Stinger section's unit commander may ask one of the other services to allow Stinger personnel to practice engaging their tactical aircraft. This could entail busing Stinger personnel in to an Air Force base.

Section and team leaders can offer their gunners valuable, meaningful training by setting up a tracking range. Examples of suitable areas are--

  • Abandoned airstrips.

  • Open fields.

  • Parade fields.

  • Maneuver areas.

    Tracking simulated engagements of live aircraft with the THT gives Stinger training more realism. The realistic aspects of engaging real aircraft during bombing and strafing runs are not found in the other training methods. This is where the gunner receives background IR discrimination training. Evasive countermeasure type engagements are also important in preparing the student for his tactical missions.


    Moving Target Simulator

    Aerial Targets

    Training Extension Course Lessons

    Using the Beseler Cue/See

    Aircraft Recognition Training


    To maintain proficiency, Stinger gunners must track and practice engagement of aerial targets as often as possible. However, because of the cost factor involved when using real aircraft, it is difficult to obtain sufficient tracking experience. To overcome this training limitation, more gunner training must be accomplished using innovative training techniques and devices to simulate real aircraft. This training requirement has been met with the development and use of a series of model aircraft as flying targets in unit training areas.


    The radio-controlled miniature aerial target (RCMAT) is a durable target capable of providing simulation of an attacking aircraft. It provides a target for detection, acquisition, tracking, and simulated firing with the Stinger weapon. Stinger teams can also use the RCMAT at a live range to teach other units how to defend themselves against aircraft with their own weapons.

    As a practical matter, the target's usage is limited only by the imagination of the unit commanders, the target operator's skill, and the restraints of range safety. The target can be flown in almost any weather. The visual reference required for flying is normally the limiting factor. Surface winds 25 knots or below do not restrict the system's tracking usage.

    A second characteristic is the combative nature of the RCMAT. The maneuver capabilities of the target match (and exceed) those of any full-size, fixed-wing aircraft and the use of these maneuvers is under the direction of the instructor. Thus, the target can challenge the gunner by flying in a realistic manner, taking full advantage of terrain features, evasive maneuvers, and scale speed.

    This unrestricted presentation capability introduces a competition between target and gunner that holds the attention of the personnel in training area. Improved morale based on the competition is a most important element in the FQM-117A's success to date.

    Another characteristic of the system is the low level of logistic support required. RCMATs are available through normal supply channels. They are normally issued in kit form by Federal stock number. The FQM-117A RCMAT consists of an airframe kit and a ground support kit.

    The airframe kit contains an engine, three airframes, ten propellers, four glowplugs, and assembly materials.

    The ground support equipment kit consists of a station case, an operator's manual parts box, three flight boxes, two tool sets, and electrical test equipment.

    Assembly and operation of the FQM-117A is the responsibility of the using unit, normally the battalion. One trained operator, with the rank of E-7, (with an additional skill identifier [ASI]) and an assistant operator (E-7 preferred), also with additional skill identifier is required.

    A 1/9 scale RCMAT will be available in the near future is a replacement to the 1/6 scale RCMAT. It will be available in two models: an MiG-27 Flogger D and F-16 Fighting Falcon.

    A comparison of operating ranges versus simulated target range is depicted in the following illustration. It gives an idea of representative distances from the Stinger positions to the target (real aircraft versus miniature target) operating ranges versus simulated target range.

    To use the illustration locate the desire simulated target range along the bottom. Move up along this line until the desired target speed intersects with this line. Then move left to find the operating range for the FQM-117A.

    The FQM-117A has approximately 1/6 the speed and visual size of a full size aircraft. When it is flown at scale distances, it simulates the performance envelope of the target aircraft to give the trainer a realistic adversary for the THT.


    Using a tracking range or tracking area, units can realistically simulate Stinger engagement of real aircraft. When using the target, remember to adjust the distance for the scaled down version of a real aircraft. To give relative figures, the following illustration, target range in meters (simulated), shows the relationship between the model and an actual aircraft when tracking a crossing target. The speed and the distance the gunner are approximate figures.


    The instructor coordinates closely from with the target controller prior to an exercise. For example, he may want the target to execute pop-up attacks to exercise the gunner's skill in coping with this type of maneuver. Target maneuvers can range from easy to track to impossible to track. The instructor should have some flights pass over or close to the Stinger position. This provides the gunner with realistic situations when engaging highspeed aircraft at close range. A sample nonfiring tracking area layout is shown below with a number of selected flight paths.


    Stinger teams should practice target engagements while wearing protective clothing and masks. This should occur both in the MTS and in the field. Training with the protective mask accustoms the team members to handling the weapon in an NBC environment. Some difficulty may be experienced in feeling the vibrations generated by the IR acquisition indicators with the mask on. However, the IR tone can be heard. The gunner may have to adjust his head position slightly in order to obtain a clearer sight picture. Tracking with the mask on will reinforce the team's confidence in operating the weapon in an NBC environment.


    The training extension course system is designed to assist soldiers and unit commanders in increasing job proficiency. It consists of audiovisual, audio only, and printed text lessons. Audiovisual projectors and cassette tape players are included to present the lessons.


    TEC provides performance-oriented training in many subjects needed by Stinger gunners. These subjects include skills that are common to all soldiers as well as those skills needed to operate and maintain Stinger weapon systems. This makes TEC an essential part of a unit's training program.


    Use of TEC lessons provides flexibility in the unit training program. It allows commanders to stress skills required by individual soldiers. TEC lessons can be presented--

  • In unit learning centers, classrooms, or in the field.

  • To individuals or small groups.

  • As self-paced instruction.

  • To correct a specific shortcoming.


    Most TEC lessons available for Stinger are audiovisual; several are audio only. Lessons available in the field cover--

  • Weapon operation.

  • Stinger team deployment and tactics.

  • Quick-reaction exercises.

  • Maintenance.

  • IFF programming.

    Common subject and MOS TEC lessons automatically distributed to units when completed or revised. In addition, each audio visual support center receives copies of the lessons. These are used to replace, by direct exchange, lessons found to be damaged or defective.


    Each lesson administrative instructions (LAI) which provide guidance on how to use the TEC training method to identify and solve training deficiencies. To identify training deficiencies, the trainer is provided with pretests and post tests in the LAI. The soldier's proficiency can be determined by having him take the pretest.

    If the soldier passes the test, he does not need the training. On the other hand, if he does not pass it, the lesson is prescribed for training. The post test is used to determine whether the soldier did learn the lesson; if not, he can repeat the lesson. TEC lessons are developed to allow the soldier to work on his own time and at his own speed.

    Material telling how to effectively use TEC lessons is obtained from the following:

  • TEC Lesson 920-061-0500-F, Introduction to TEC.

  • TEC Lesson 920-777-0505-A, TEC for Green Tabbers.

  • TC 21-5-3, TEC Management Instruction, contains guidance on how to use the TEC system and develop the unit's support structure for TEC.

    Stinger-related TEC lessons are listed in appendix D.


    The Beseler Cue/See can be used for training in all aspects of Stinger training. Lessons are presented via a super 8-millimeter continuous loop video cassette which is synchronized with an audio cassette. Lessons are normally presented on a 6 x 8-inch screen on the front of the Beseler Cue/See. However, by opening a small door at the rear of the device, the picture can be projected onto a screen or classroom wall. The film speed can be adjusted from a single frame to 24 frames per second. Frames may be stopped automatically to allow some action by the student, such as reading a procedure from a technical manual or answering a question. The Beseler's light weight and small size allow it to be used almost anywhere.


    Aircraft recognition is a real challenge. New aircraft and changing aircraft designs are adding to the list of aircraft to be recognized; it is a continuous process. This ever-changing situation poses a real challenge for those who teach visual aircraft recognition. Perhaps the biggest problem in recognition has been teaching it in an effective and realistic fashion.

    Troops must be trained to be proficient in quick aircraft recognition. Hostile low-flying aircraft may appear suddenly from behind low hills, over trees, or through haze. High-speed aircraft are difficult to identify. Accurate visual recognition of aircraft is essential to Stinger personnel in making their engagement decision. It is vital that recognition be swift and accurate. Team members should be experts at recognizing all friendly and potentially hostile aircraft expected to be operating at low altitudes in a specified combat zone. Each team member should approach 100 percent recognition accuracy with 90 percent being a minimum acceptable level of proficiency.

    Practicality dictates that aircraft recognition training be conducted using picture images of the aircraft to be learned. Two basic methods for presenting images are the use of the ground observer aircraft recognition (GOAR) kit, and TEC lessons designed for aircraft recognition training. In addition, graphic training aids (GTA), such as printed cards and charts, are useful supplements to the GOAR kit and TEC lessons. Numbers and titles currently available, or under production, include--

  • GTA 44-2-5, Soviet and Warsaw Pact Forward Area Aircraft.

  • GTA 44-2-6, Aircraft Recognition Playing Cards.

  • GTA 44-2-7, Military Aircraft Markings You Should Know.

  • GTA 44-2-8, Free World Forward Area Aircraft.

    Aircraft recognition techniques are covered in detail in FM 44-30. This field manual should be used as a guide for aircraft recognition training in Stinger units. It can be used by those persons who establish training requirements and who evaluate job proficiency of individuals and the combat readiness of Stinger units.

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