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New US Army Stinger Missiles More Lethal Against Drones

Army Spc. Matthew Williams, a cavalry scout assigned to 2nd Cavalry Regiment, fires a Stinger missile using a man-portable air defense system during Artemis Strike, a live-fire exercise at the NATO Missile Firing Installation in Crete, Greece. 

The U.S. Army is getting close to greenlighting Stinger missiles which might be more lethal against enemy drones following a string of successful tests a few weeks ago.

The Cruise Missile Defense Systems Project Office, or CMDS, demonstrated a whole new proximity warhead capability on a Stinger missile during flight testing at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, on the three-week period in August.

The first couple of weeks of the test event were centered on characterizing the capacity of the proximity warhead against static drone targets. In the final week, the proximity fuze-equipped Stingers went up against nine free-flying unmanned aircraft systems ranging from promising small to roughly 1,000-pound variants, regarding the size of a Shadow UAS, as outlined by Wayne Leonard, the merchandise lead for Stinger-based systems at CMDS.

The Stinger missiles were fired from man-portable air-defense systems and Avenger launcher systems to exhibit they can be safely fired from both.

The two systems are being used as being a temporary capability-gap filler for short-range air defense in Europe since the Army functions induce an interim SHORAD capability that could take care of the maneuver force.

Stinger missiles might be a section of that interim SHORAD solution, too.

Previous versions from the Stinger missile utilize a hit-to-kill capacity to take out targets, which requires extreme accuracy. Drone targets, with unpredictable flight paths, allow it to be even tougher for a Stinger missile to create contact. A proximity warhead capability enables a Stinger to acquire within close variety of a target, then detonate an explosive to neutralize targets which are within close range from the missile.

Now that the critical testing has wrapped up for that Stinger missile with all the proximity fuze warhead, the Army will select an urgent materiel release. That decision is anticipated in February 2019 after Army Test and Evaluation Command releases its report, in accordance with Leonard.

Getting more lethal Stingers approved for urgent fielding was no small feat, nonetheless it ended within a year following receipt of a brand new surge of funds to move forward about the project, Col. Chuck Worshim, project manager for CMDS with all the Army’s Program Executive Office Missiles and Space, said in a very September 7 interview.

Just a year ago, there was no long-term intend to improve the Stinger missile, he said. In 2014, the Army received some funding to broadly find ways to produce the missile better, however the money only covered some with the initial development of an proximity fuze capability, Worshim said. Then when the funding ran out, the time and effort stopped.

But with a whole new list of urgent modernization priorities outlined by Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley recently where SHORAD and counter-UAS, among other efforts, have risen to the top, the project office received enough funding in July 2017 to finally result in the proximity fuze Stinger missile an actuality.

The new Stinger missile “will bring an increased lethality,” Worshim said, which will get “after those small UAS, drones, which might be being proliferated across the globe right now and wreaking havoc.”

The Army’s fast-paced effort in order to complete development and qualify the new more-lethal Stinger missile appeared possible through the other transaction authority process, which helped the service bypass part from the initial drawn-out contracting timeline to rapidly prototype and move ahead, Worshim said.

Once the Army approves the Stinger missile for urgent materiel release, which will trigger a five-year Service Life Extension Program, or SLEP, the place that the service will take 5,000 existing Stinger missiles in their inventory over the five-year period and add the proximity warhead in addition to replace an adult flight motor along with a gas generator cartridge to deal with obsolescence issues, Leonard said.

The budget to upgrade the 5,000 missiles across 5yrs is roughly $270 million.

This won’t just improve the Stinger’s lethality, Worshim said, and also inject another decade of life to the missiles.

The SLEP program will probably be carried out at McAlester Army Ammunition Plant in Oklahoma.

The service expects that within ninety days with the approval with the urgent materiel release, it has roughly 500 missiles to deploy wherever the Army deems necessary, according to Worshim.

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