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Stinger Takes To The Skies
by James Dunnigan
December 7, 2013

American Stinger ground-to-air missiles modified for air-to-air use have become increasingly popular over the last five years. At first such Stingers were sold for use on AH-64 helicopter gunships, but the ATAS (air-to-air Stingers) can now be found mounted on just about any helicopter and larger UAVs as well. This trend began when it was noticed that there were more targets for air-to-air Stingers (low flying aircraft, UAVs, and a lot more helicopters). While helicopter gunships have auto-cannon, these are weapons only good out to about 2,000 meters and have limited ammo. The ATAS can hit something 8,000 meters away (if it is not moving fast) and the missile has its own guidance system (a heat seeker that picks up heat from anywhere on the target aircraft).

For air-to-air use the missiles come with special as air-to-air launcher containers, as well as test and training equipment. This version of the Stinger costs about $200,000 per missiles. Stinger was first modified for air-to-air use in the late 1990s. At first it was believed that the most likely target would be other helicopters. Nailing a jet is more difficult (they don't call them "fast movers" for nothing). The ATAS can only reach moving targets at up to 4.5 kilometers away. In any event, that's not too bad for a 15.2 kg (34 pound) missile.

ATAS has been sold to Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, India, and Qatar as well as the U.S. Army.


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