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 (top speed 135 mph, ceiling 25,000 ft) didn't run or couldn't run from the MiG-25 (top speed 1,900 mph, ceiling 78,740 ft) and fired a Stinger missile. The Stinger failed to hit the MIG, possibly because it could not distinguish between the heat signatures of the MIG and the missile it fired. The missile fired by the MiG destroyed the Predator. This was the first time in history a conventional aircraft and a drone had engaged in combat.
There are two variants of AIM-92:
The Air-to Air Stinger [ATAS] is an adaptation of the man portable Stinger System. It is a light weight missile designed to engage low altitude targets. A major milestone in the improvement of the Air-to-Air Stinger (ATAS) Block-1 missile was demonstrated on 19 November 1996 at Yuma Proving Ground, AZ. An OH-58D piloted by CPT Bob Blanchett, US Army Test and Evaluation Command (TECOM), successfully acquired, tracked, engaged, and destroyed a QUH-1 drone helicopter deploying countermeasures at a range greater than 4,500 meters. This firing also demonstrated the capabilities of the improved missile to successfully engage a target without the requirement for super-elevation.
All Air-to-Air Stinger (ATAS) Block II missiles will be modified existing Stinger RMP missiles. The Block II retrofit program will add the Block I modifications plus incorporate a starring IR focal plane array seeker, a new battery, and advanced signal processing capabilities. The new seeker will permit engagements of helicopters in clutter out to the kinematic range of the missile. The missile and launcher will be 1760 compatible. The Block II program will also extend shelf life, improve accuracy and IRCCM capabilities, and will provide a full night capability.
As FIM-92 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: Fire-and-forget passive infrared seeker for Block I and Fire-and-forget passive IR focal plane array seeker in Block II version
- Warhead: 3 kg HE blast fragmentation
- Propulsion: Dual thrust solid fuel rocket motor
- Speed: Mach 2.2 (750 m/s)
- Range: 8 km