In recent years, man-portable anti-aircraft systems (MANPADS), particularly the FIM-92 Stinger, have gained prominence. The Stinger has a long history of service in various wars worldwide, beginning with its predecessor, the FIM-43 Redeye, which was the primary man-portable anti-aircraft system for the United States in 1967.
General Dynamics began developing an improved version of the Redeye in 1971, which was accepted by the Army as the Redeye II and later designated as the FIM-92 Stinger.
One significant drawback of the Redeye was that it could only “lock” onto a target if it had direct visibility with the engine exit (rear-aspect), as it shared a seeker with the AIM-9B.
This limitation was overcome in the Stinger, allowing the operator to “lock” onto the target from all directions (all-aspect).
The FIM-92 Stinger can be classified into four main categories:
Basic, POST, RMP, and Air-to-Air ATAS. Each category has several sub-versions, including:
- FIM-92A (Basic)
- FIM-92B (POST): The first system upgrade with countermeasure improvements.
- FIM-92C (RMP): Further resistance to countermeasures, as well as reprogrammability of its electronics.
- FIM-92D (RMP): Improved immunity to interference.
- FIM-92E (RMP Block I): Improved flight behavior thanks to hardware and software upgrades while improving its performance against small targets.
- FIM-92F (RMP Block I): An upgrade of version E.
- FIM-92G (RMP Block I): An upgrade of version D.
- FIM-92H (RMP Block I): An upgrade of version D to the E level.
- FIM-92J: A version with new subsystems to upgrade Block I RMPs and extend their life.
- FIM-92K: A version of the FIM-92J with datalink integration.
- ATAS (Air-To-Air Stinger): An air-to-air version of the system. Block 0 is based on the FIM-92B/C, Block 1 is based on the FIM-92E, and Block 2 uses the RMP missiles with a new seeker, battery, and other electronics.
The Stinger comprises three primary components: the missile, the launcher, and the canister that houses the missile.
The missile itself consists of three parts: the guidance system (seeker, battery, control surfaces), the warhead, and the engine. The launcher holds the AN/PPX-3 IFF system and other electronic equipment.
In conclusion, the FIM-92 Stinger is an essential component of modern anti-aircraft warfare, with a long history of service and a range of versions and upgrades to suit various military needs.