Manufactured by Raytheon Systems, it was designed to replace the older generation Redeye missiles. Stinger is classified as a Man-Portable Air-Defense System (MANPADS). It uses a passive infrared seeker head to home in on the engines of enemy aircraft. The missiles also identify the UV "shadow" of the target and use that identification to distinguish the target from other heat-producing objects. Various vehicles can carry and fire the Stinger, including the HMMWV-based M1016 Avenger and the Bradley IFV -based M6 Linebacker.
- Length - 5 feet (1.5 meters)
- Diameter - 2.75 inches (7 cm)
- Weight - 22 pounds (10 kg)
- Weight with launcher - 34.5 pounds (15.2 kg)
- Explosives - 2.2 pounds, impact fuze (explodes on contact with target)
- Speed - 1,500 mph (2,400 kph, Mach 2)
- Altitude Range - Approximately 11,000 feet (3 km)
- Distance Range - Approximately 5 miles (8 km)
In 1980's, the CIA supplied Afghan Mujahideen with 500 Stingers ( some say up to 2000) for use against the helicopters of the invading Soviet Army. The Stingers proved devastating to the Soviet war effort, all the much more due to the fact that Soviet air power had been more or less invulnerable up to that point. Soviet air bases used the same mountain passes day in, day out, and once the Mujahideen had a weapon capable of hitting and destroying the hated gunships, the tables were largely turned. The Soviet Army had much more difficulty with Close Air Support and Supply Missions from then on out. Stinger teams were a constant danger to Soviet pilots, hampering their ability to respond to attacks quickly. Overall, the loss of so many helicopters led to exposing more troops in convoys and further alienating the population with an intensification of massive artillery strikes.