Why the US wants a new Stinger anti-air missile

The US Army wants a new human-portable missile that troopers can use to shoot down plane. Looking to exchange the venerable Stinger anti-air weapon, the Army put out a request for info on March 28, and wants the weapon in manufacturing by 2027. A new anti-air weapon program for the Army has lengthy been in the works, however Russias invasion of Ukraine has forged the concern in stark aid. The potential of troopers on the floor to destroy plane, or at the least make the menace of airstrikes a danger to pilots, has vastly constrained how Russia is preventing the conflict.

The solicitation dryly notes that The present Stinger stock is in decline, which is one option to describe the US Army sending thousands of the missiles from its personal stock to Ukraines army. The missiles value $38,000 apiece, which partly explains why models like the 173rd Airborne Brigade had skilled with replicas as a substitute of reside missiles, a observe that changed this month.

These missiles be a part of even older anti-air weapons, like the Soviet-made Strela anti-air missiles Germany despatched to Ukraine, in bolstering the protection of Ukraine with out actively becoming a member of the combat in the sky above. These weapons are each MANPADS, or man-portable air protection programs, and each Strelas and Stingers had been developed in the Sixties as a solution to jets and helicopters on the battlefield. The missiles have additionally been integrated into launchers on autos, which might carry extra weapons and incorporate extra superior sensors to detect and observe hostile plane earlier than firing.

A mix of human-carried and vehicle-mounted anti-air defenses allowed Ukraines army to inflict vital injury on Russian plane flying low assault runs, an strategy that in flip drove Russias air drive to adopt less accurate higher-altitude bombing runs as a technique of preserving plane.

In 2022, human-carried anti-air missiles nonetheless have a position in attacking helicopters and planes, however they may also have to function in skies stuffed with drones, with much better sensors and countermeasures than had been doable many years in the past. To perceive the Stinger alternative, first it helps to know the Stinger.

Meet the previous Stinger

The primary Stinger weapon is a Marine-portable, shoulder-fired, infrared (IR) radiation homing (heat-seeking) guided missile that requires no management from the gunner after firing, explains the Marine Corps Low Altitude Air Defense Gunners Handbook. Complete with a launcher, it weighs 34.5 kilos, of which 12.5 kilos is the missile, which itself incorporates 2.25 kilos of explosive warhead.

It is helpful towards quick, low-flying plane used to assault folks, autos, or buildings on the floor. It can begin monitoring targets at a range of 15,700 toes, or simply shy of three miles, and it will probably hit autos as distant as 12,500 toes, or 2.4 miles. Upgraded and trendy variations of the missile have a processor to assist guarantee it solely targets hostile autos and never pleasant ones, and these missiles additionally carry a totally different processor thats helpful towards infrared countermeasures.

Heat-seeking towards the engine of a helicopter or jet is a significantly dependable option to discover and observe the automobile.

The Stinger seeker can discriminate between radiation from a small level supply similar to the tailpipe of a jet and huge background sources similar to clouds and terrain, the handbook notes. Except for the solar, the targets engine exhaust is normally the smallest and hottest object in the surroundings and can be tracked by the missile seeker.

The missile design dates again to the Sixties, when it changed earlier Redeye shoulder-fired missiles that struggled to catch, pursue, and appropriately determine enemy plane. One of the large adjustments in design of the Redeye II, which turned the Stinger, was to maneuver some sensors from the missile itself to the launcher element. Stingers entered into service in the Nineteen Eighties, and in addition to the US army, they had been famously distributed to insurgents preventing towards the Soviet Union in Afghanistan starting in 1986.

The new Stinger

In in search of a Stinger alternative, the Army wants to maintain a lot of current Stinger infrastructure in place. The discover says the new system should be able to integration with the Stinger Vehicle Universal Launcher, and in addition that it should be soldier-portable.

What can be new in the Stinger alternative, then, is that it should do all the pieces an current Stinger can do, however higher, with an specific name for higher goal monitoring and better vary than exists at present. These missiles should additionally destroy helicopters and planes with capabilities equal to or better than the present Stinger missile, in addition to destroying Group 2-3 Unmanned Aircraft Systems. Russias Orlan-10 drones, used for artillery recognizing and scouting in the Ukraine invasion, falls on the smaller finish of that class. The Bayraktar TB2 drone, made by Turkey and prominently featured by Ukraines army, is simply on the fringe of the most dimension of Group 3.

Drones like the Orlan-10 and TB2 are options of contemporary warfare, utilized by main and mid-sized militaries, and play a position in fight that the drones used for scouting in the Sixties and Seventies by no means may. It is smart, then, that any new anti-air weapon needs to be able to defending troopers from aerial discovery or drone-guided artillery barrages.

One option to defeat these drones, included in the posted discover and in movies like this from Stinger-maker Raytheon, is a proximity fuse. Instead of getting to hit the drone straight, a Stinger with a proximity fuse has to simply get shut sufficient that it will probably catch the drone in the blast radius of its personal detonation.

While the new discover is explicitly for Stinger missiles that can be utilized from vehicle-based launchers, as a result of the identical missile should be suitable with current launchers, it will probably seemingly be considered a deliberate alternative for all current stock of Stinger missiles, each human- and vehicle-carried.

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