Small Arms in the Air Defense Role
Many of a unit's non-air-defense weapons (small arms and machine guns) are normally used against the enemy's ground forces. When the unit comes under air attack, these should be temporarily diverted to destroy or drive off attacking aircraft. Fires from air defense artillery weapons, small arms, and machine guns must be massed against the air threat. Stinger personnel are air defense artillerymen. As such, they advise and assist supported unit personnel in learning when and how to fire at enemy aircraft.
All units must be able to use small arms and machine guns to counter enemy air attacks.
WHEN TO FIRE
The decision to engage aircraft with small arms and machine guns is normally made by the unit commander. The rule for his decision is simple -- if aircraft attack the unit, return fire.
If the aircraft is not attacking the unit, the unit commander makes the decision of whether to engage or not to engage the aircraft. The commander may not want to engage the aircraft and disclose his unit's position. If he decides to engage, he must be able to positively identify the aircraft as hostile. The unit commander must remember that if his unit is not being attacked, he must give the order to fire.
HOW TO FIRE
Start by looking at how one man should fire at one aircraft. If the aircraft is attacking, he will probably see a head-on view or crossing view of the target as shown below.
The best small arms protection against attacking aircraft is volume fire. It is effective. With everyone shooting at once, a large volume of airspace will be covered. All soldiers will use their projected lead (visualizing football fields). However, some will fire with too much lead and some with too little. But with everybody shooting, enough rounds will go to the right place in front of the aircraft.
INTERACTION WITH STINGER
In combat, the Stinger team will receive an alert warning of unknown aircraft approaching the unit's position. The warning alerts the unit of a possible air attack. This is done by using the unit's command net and/or signals prescribed by the unit SOP. The unit personnel with equipment can take appropriate action. They seek cover and concealment, disperse, and/or take other measures as the situation requires. They then prepare to return fire, if attacked by enemy aircraft.
Together, Stinger, small arms, and machine guns can destroy, drive away, or reduce the effectiveness of attacking aircraft. They put a volume of fire from the unit's organic weapons and Stinger missiles in the air. Even if the aircraft is not destroyed, the pilot's ordnance delivery probably will be inaccurate. It is even more probable that he won't return for a second attack on the unit.
Reference FM 44-8 for information on use of small arms against air attack.
THE COMMANDER CAN MAKE JUDICIOUS USE OF AVAILABLE AIR DEFENSE RESOURCES AND SMALL ARMS AND MACHINE GUNS IN THE AIR OFFENSE ROLE. HE MAY ACHIEVE SUCCESS ON A BATTLEFIELD WHICH OTHERWISE MIGHT BE DOMINATED BY SUPERIOR AIR FORCES. HE MAY NOT COMPLETELY DESTROY THE THREAT. HOWEVER, HE CAN, IN FACT, DEFEAT IT OR REDUCE ITS EFFECTIVENESS. PERSONNEL CAN FIRE TRACERS AND MISSILES WHICH THE PILOT CAN SEE. FREQUENTLY, THESE CONVINCE HIM TO INITIATE ESCAPE MANEUVERS OR CAUSE A REDUCED ACCURACY OF ORDNANCE DELIVERY.
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