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Stinger Missiles - Targeting Aircraft

Surface-to-Air Missile Attacks Aircraft from the Ground


Stinger Missiles - Targeting Aircraft
Official Army photo

Designed to attack aircraft from the ground, the FIM-92 Stinger surface-to-air missile has earned a reputation for deadly accuracy.

Light and Portable

The FIM-92 Stinger surface-to-air missile has been in use by the U.S. military since 1981. Light, portable and easy to use, the “Stinger Missile” fires on aircraft in the sky from soldiers on the ground. The Stinger Missile is typically mounted on the shoulder of a soldier. It can hit aircraft traveling at nearly 16,000 feet. The U.S. military has confirmed that Stinger Missiles have destroyed 270 aircraft over the past 29 years.

Stinger Missiles are also mounted onto High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWV) or Humvees and helicopters. Stinger missiles mounted onto helicopters are known as air-to-air missiles. The weapon has also bee issued to Navy warships and is frequently used by U.S. marines and paratroopers in combat environments.

The Stinger Missile and launcher weigh about 30 pounds. Relatively compact at 1.5 meters long and 70 millimeters in diameter, the Stinger Missile can be easily transported in a range of environments such as jungle, dessert and arctic. Stinger missiles have been used in nearly every combat zone that the U.S. military has operated in over the past three decades.

Design and Use

It took more than 10 years to develop the Stinger Missile and bring the weapon into active service with the U.S. military. Originally designed by General Dynamics of Falls Church, Virginia, the Stinger Missile is now manufactured by Waltham, Massachusetts-based Raytheon Missile Systems. Each Stinger Missile costs about $40,000.00 to purchase.

Today, about 30 countries worldwide use Stinger Missiles. Other countries that use the weapon include the United Kingdom, Japan, China and Israel. The British Special Forces first used Stinger Missiles during the Falklands War in 1982. The weapon was used widely during the Soviet war in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Afghan resistance fighters used Stinger Missiles to destroy the aircraft of the then powerful Soviet military.

Stinger missiles continue to play an important role in the U.S. military arsenal. There is currently an inventory of about 15,000 Stinger Missiles in the U.S.

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