The AIM-92 Stinger or ATAS (Air To Air Stinger) is an air-to-air missile developed from the shoulder-launched FIM-92 Stinger system, for use on helicopters such as the AH-64 Apache, Eurocopter Tiger and also UAVs such as the MQ-1 Predator. The missile itself is identical to the shoulder-launched Stinger.
In a 19 November 1996 demonstration, a Stinger (ATAS) Block-1 missile was launched from an OH-58D piloted by CPT Bob Blanchett at Yuma Proving Ground and successfully destroyed a QUH-1 drone helicopter deploying countermeasures at a range greater than 4,500 meters.
All Air-to-Air Stinger (ATAS) Block II missiles will be modified existing Stinger RMP missiles (FIM-92C). Block II will incorporate various improvements including a new staring IR focal plane array seeker, a new battery, and advanced signal processing capabilities. The seeker permits engagements of helicopters in clutter out to the 8 km maximum physical range of the missile, also improved accuracy and IRCCM capabilities, and will provide a full night capability. The Block II missile also supports seeker slaving (steering the missile's seeker off-axis before launch to lock onto targets). This was first demonstrated on 6 November 1997 at Yuma.
ATAL is an upgrade to the Air-to-Air Stinger launcher fielded on the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior and Blackhawk helicopters. In mid 2000, tests were carried out with the ATAL system mounted on the AH-64 Apache Longbow helicopter. Nine missiles were fired, eight of which scored direct hits against simulated hovering helicopter targets in a clutter environment. The missiles were launched with the Longbow helicopter traveling at speeds from hovering to 136 knots, side slips up to 30 knots, partial power descents, pull-up maneuvers, hovering pedal turns, push-over maneuvers, and a 22-degree bank.
An Iraqi MiG-25 shot down a Predator drone performing reconnaissance over the no fly zone in Iraq on 23 December 2002. Predators had been armed with Stingers, and were being used to "bait" Iraqi fighter planes, then run. In this incident, the Predator didn't run, but instead fired one of the Stingers after the MiG engaged with its own missiles. The Stinger's heat-seeker probably became "distracted" by the MiG's missile and so missed the MiG, and the Predator was destroyed. This was the first time in history a conventional aircraft and a drone had engaged in combat.
General characteristics (Block I)
As FIM-92A Stinger
- Length : 1.52 m (59.8 in.)
- Diameter : 70 mm (2.8 in.)
- Wingspan : 140 mm (5.5 in.)
- Launch weight : 16 kg
- Guidance : Passive IR
- Warhead : 3 kg HE blast fragmentation
- Propulsion : Solid propellant
- Speed : Mach 2.2 (750 m/s)
- Range : 200 m to (at least) 4.5 km
- Block I
- Block II Maximum range 8 km against hovering targets.