A man-portable surface to air missile (or SAM) used by the US Army to shoot down enemy aircraft. Because the Army hasn't operated without USAF air superiority since Vietnam, none have been fired in combat.

Originally called the REDEYE II, it was scheduled to replace the REDEYE in 1971. It was renamed "Stinger" in 1972, and the contract for engineering development was awarded to General Dynamics that June.

The Stinger is also pretty good as currency in politically/economically unstable countries with tinpot dictators or insane despots. There are roughly 250 Stingers to the Huey, although exchange rates vary based on local flying conditions.

The Stinger is an anti Joyriding device employed by many Police forces. It consists of a number of metal spikes on an extending base, and is designed to safely slow and stop Joyriders or other car thieves by piercing their tyres.

The Stinger starts in a compact form (for easy storage and transport) but extends to a few feet long when 'deployed'. Deployment is achieved by flinging it accurately across the road. Considerable practice is required to correctly deploy the Stinger. Throw it wrong, and the spikes will end up laying along the road surface rather than pointing correctly upwards. Having thrown the Stinger correctly across the road in front of an approaching (stolen) car, the police officer must then retract the Stinger before his/her colleagues, the pursuing police officers, drive over it and pierce their own tyres.

The spikes which constitute the effective weaponry of the Stinger are actually hollow tubes, which are cunningly designed to break away from the base of the device. This results in fast Joyrider tyre deflation. According to the manufacturer, Federal Signal Corporation, the average car tyre will deflate in 10 to 20 seconds, resulting in a safer chase.

Quoting from a Salon Magazine article, as allowed by the tenets of fair use:
Jane's magazine estimates that the Taliban have at least a few functional Stingers, an assessment shared by independent sources, including Andrew Gembara, a former U.S. Army special forces officer who is familiar with Afghanistan. He fears that mujahedin veterans may have already smuggled Stingers -- or old Russian SAMs, which are of limited use against modern military aircraft but deadly against a 747 -- into the United States. "The missile for a SAM is slightly bigger than a baseball bat," he says. "The Stingers are somewhat larger but you could put one in a car trunk or a truck."

--from http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2001/09/22/blowback/print.html

Whether any of these missiles actually do end up being used against aircraft may only be a matter of time--but it is almost certain that in the post-WTC heightened tension, any aircraft accident or mishap will be examined closely for signs of such an attack, and rumors will fly faster than any guided missile.

A stinger is also the final note in many pieces of music (most often marches or upbeat pieces for a sports pep band). It's seperated from what is otherwise the end of the song, and is often louder than the rest, or at least more accented. Hard to mistake, if you know what it is. Listen to a Sousa march and there's a good chance you'll catch it.

The Stinger (formerly the REDEYE II) is (as has been noted by Jurph) a U.S. made MANPADS system, designed to be operated by a dismounted soldier. The complete system consists of the launcher/gripstock, the missile (packaged 'all-up'), and an IFF tranceiver, typically worn on the belt. The missile round is attached to the gripstock preparatory to firing. At this point, batteries and stored coolant in the missile loading tube are used to run the electronics of the launcher and missile seeker (the coolant is required to operate the IR seeker on the missile). When the missile detects a target within range (defined as approx. 2 miles horizontal, and up to 4800ft altitude) the IFF transceiver (if available) will interrogate the target. If the response does not match, the launcher will sound a quiet buzzing to indicate to the operator that the missile has acquired the target.

At launch, a launching charge pushes the missile out of the tube (breaking the tube seals) and several feet away from the launcher, at which point the booster motor fires. The Stinger round will reach velocities in excess of 1200mph at its maximum range. The missile guides itself during flight in a variety of ways, depending on the missile variant. All models have an impact ('hit-to-kill') fuzing system, as well as an end-of-run self-destruct.

The Basic Stinger (FIM-92A) is effective out to approximately 4,000-4,500 meters. It uses a basic passive infrared seeker with a linear reticle scan pattern, with analog single-component signal processing to discriminate between an aircraft signature and background clutter. The Stinger-POST (FIM-92B) adds an ultraviolet sensor, for a two-signal lock; in addition, its seeker scans in a 'rosette' pattern for better coverage of the field of view and better performance against maneuvering targets. Finally, the POST model incorporates digital signal processing (DSP) into the missile for better discrimination against countermeasures and environmental noise. The third model, known as the Stinger-RMP (FIM-92C) contains reprogrammable microprocessor systems (cool TLA, huh?) which allow it to be updated in order to handle newer threat signatures or countermeasures over time.

The Stinger is also used in a 'mounted' form. The U.S. Army built an air-defense vehicle called Avenger which consisted of a .50-caliber machine gun mounted on a turret between two vehicular missile launchers. Each launcher holds four packaged Stinger rounds. The assembly is mounted on a HMMWV chassis, and is used against helicopter threats and/or low-flying fixed-wing aircraft. There is a variant certified for use on helicopters called Air-to-Air Stinger; there are also installations aboard naval vessels. The missile has been both sold abroad (FMS) as well as entered licensed production (by Switzerland, for example). In 1985, the number of Stingers produced passed the 10,000 mark.

During the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the CIA distributed approximately 1,000 Stingers of various types to the Afghani mujahedin for use in their fight against the Red Army. The resistance fighters managed to score around a 60% hit rate against Soviet helicopters. However, only half, or perhaps less, of these weapons were actually expended during the conflict. The U.S. (the CIA and the military) offered a 'buy-back' program after the conflict, indicating that they would pay up to $35,000 per missile for all those returned to the U.S. However, by that point the price of these proven weapons on the black market was much, much higher, and few were recovered.

There are conflicting stories about how many remain on the world arms market, as well as how hard the U.S. agencies involved really tried to retrieve them after the Soviets withdrew. Some have claimed that there is a tremendous danger to U.S. and other nations' commercial aviation from these remaining missiles; they point to instances in which Soviet versions (the SAM-7, notably) have been used to down passenger aircraft. A shoot-down of a Boeing 737 in the Congo is perhaps the most widely-cited example. The danger arises from the fact that the Stinger is a completely self-contained weapon, designed to be used with minimal training, with a long shelf life. It is small enough to place in the trunk of a large car in assembled form, or disassembled can be packed into suitcase-sized containers. Terrorists might conceivably smuggle a Stinger or three into the U.S. to use on American passenger airliners, or even Air Force One if they could get close enough. The government of Colombia received warnings in the 1980s that local guerrillas planned to assassinate the president of that country by using SAM-7 rockets against his plane. They put protection in place (guarding approaches, decoy aircraft, etc.) and nothing happened. However, some months later, several SAM-7s were found in a captured rebel stronghold, indicating that the threat was at least plausible.

There are a few things to keep in mind when applying this to the current situation. First of all, just because they're small doesn't mean that the Stinger components are easy to smuggle. You'd probably have to drive them in from Canada or Mexico, or bring them aboard a ship. This latter is most likely, since a ship or boat could also be used to launch the missile against coastal city air traffic. However, they are designed to attack close-in low-flying targets. Therefore, in order to hit a civilian airliner, the launcher would (realistically) need to be within two miles of the aircraft's liftoff point; once the target has lifted above 5,000 feet, it is fairly safe from shoulder-fired weapons.

More importantly, the consumables in the Stinger system degrade over time. Those given to the mujahedin were transferred in 1981, making them twenty years old. Batteries for electronics and liquified gases for coolant both will escape or run flat. While batteries might be easily replaced, the act of doing so will involve 'unsealing' a missile round, modifying it, and repackaging it. While this is not impossible, it is not easily accomplished either; at least, not in such a way that the user can be relatively sure the missile will function. IR seekers are extremely sensitive to damage, contaminants, and other environmental hazards.

So, is there a threat? Sure. Is that threat unique to stingers? Nope. The SAM-7 and other Eastern Bloc MANPADS systems work too, and they're out there in greater numbers. While some have been used, we have not yet seen their use by terrorists in an essentially non-combat zone.

Some stats, to finish up:


Sources:
compiled overview of the 20 ton Stinger 'Mech, from various BattleTech novels and game sourcebooks:



First designed after Earthwerks won the bid against General Mechanics Incorporated (the designers of the WSP-1A Wasp), the Stinger STG-3R was put into production along with the Wasp because of the great need for light scouts and also because of the similarities in the design of the two 'Mechs.

In 2479, the first Stingers came off the assembly line. In the next four centuries, nearly 200,000 more units would be constructed. Estimates place the number of operational Stingers currently used by the Successor States at 5,000 or more. Indeed, the 'Mech is still being produced in a number of facilities both in and out of the Inner Sphere.

The Stinger was designed as a scout and reconnaissance 'Mech, although it is also used as a training 'Mech in some MechWarrior academies, replacing the TRC-4B Chameleon. The Stinger is lightly armored and mounts limited weapons. Its speed and maneuverability, however, make it a difficult target and a tough 'Mech to pin down.

The Stinger mounts an Omicron 3000 medium laser in its right arm, and two LFN Linblad machine guns on the right and left forearm. Though the Stinger's armor is minimal, it is considered average for light 'Mechs. Its real defensive strength lies in its speed and maneuverability. With maximum speeds surpassing 90kph and the powerful jump capability of its Chilton 360 jump jets, the Stinger can get itself out of most tight spots.

Overheating is never a problem with the Stinger design. The coolant jackets of the Linblad machine guns effectively block all heat emissions from those weapons, and the heat buildup from the Omicron 3000 medium laser is minor. Even with its jump jets firing continuously, the Stinger can't develope heat problems unless conditions outside the 'mech are extreme.

One of the biggest complaints of Stinger pilots is the cramped cockpit space. Many times, a pilot must literally squeeze himself into the control seat, and then often can't get out again without help from his technician.

Here is a little Stinger related love story of sorts:

Elements of Wolf's Dragoons raided the Davion planet of Doneval II in 3021. During the raid, a party of cadets of the Meistmore Mechwarrior Academy were training on Stingers in a deserted area of the planet, where they were ambushed by a lance of the elite Black Widow Company of Wolf's Dragoons. Almost immediately, the cadet's instructor was put out of action.

The cadets ran for cover, with only the Wasp of the Black Widow Company keeping up. It happened that the first cadet disabled was a woman to whom each of the other four cadets was attracted. Though she ejected successfully, the Black Widow Wasp was quickly upon her. As one, the other four cadets turned around to engage the Wasp, knocking it out before it could get to the girl. The cadets then picked her up, and ran into the wilderness before the heavy enemy 'Mechs could come into range. It was said that the pilot of the Black Widow Wasp nearly died of shame to be taken by 'a bunch of kids'.



Note: Information used here was the domain of FASA before they split the rights between Wizkids LLC and Microsoft (table-top gaming and video games respectively). Copyright of the fluff text is in limbo, but names of persons, places, & things are without any doubt the property of Wizkids LLC. Use of any terms here related to the BattleTech trademark are not meant as a challenge to Wizkids LLC's rights.
At the end of each episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 after the credits roll a short, 5 second clip of the movie featured in the episode is shown. Typically the clip is the oddest part of the movie. This little clip is called "the stinger" by the show's creators, Best Brains.

The first stinger appeared at the end of episode #205, Rocket Attack USA. Episode #207, Wild Rebels, did not feature a stinger. Fan speculation is that Best Brains simply forgot to add one. The stingers continued to appear at the end of the show until season 8, when episodes #805-807 (The Thing That Couldn't Die, The Undead, and Terror From The Year 5000) replaced the stingers with a clip of the Observers from the host segments holding their brains up to the camera. Episode #808, The She Creature, also did not feature a stinger. This time it was replaced with Professor Bobo (another host segment character) having fallen on to a planet.

Beginning with episode #809, I Was A Teenage Werewolf, the stingers returned and continued until the series finale, episode #1013 (Diabolik).

Furthermore, the stinger was missing from the Rhino Home Video release of episode #518, The Atomic Brain. Best Brains claims that the stinger was present on the master copy sent to Rhino, wheras Rhino claims it wasn't.


References:
http://www.mst3kinfo.com has everything a good MSTie could want.

A stinger is a kind of alcoholic drink, or rather several kinds of entirely different make. Originally it was simply whisky and soda, half and half, much savoured by the British in Malaya, and the name comes from the Malay word setengah, 'half'. This mixed drink is also written as stengah or stingah.

The other kind of cocktail is so entirely different from a whisky-and-soda that I imagine it must be an independent invention, and perhaps given its coincidental name because it stings. This is brandy and creme de menthe, properly white or clear creame de menthe, with the brandy tending to predominate in quantity (recipes out there on the Web vary between 1:1 and 4:1).

These are not to be confused with a another alcohol with a sting, namely stingo, a kind of thick strong beer.

Then we get variations on these. The Louisville stinger sounds a bit stinging: bourbon, rum, creme de menthe, and creme de cacao. A royal stinger is a hybrid of the two stingers, whisky and white creme de menthe. Another possibility is to add vodka to the... well of course you can add anything you like, quite frankly; if you've got creme de menthe in there as a base you're not likely to be over-finicky about what else goes into it. So an amaretto stinger is creme de menthe and... urp, excuse me, gotta rush...

Sting"er (?), n.

One who, or that which, stings.

Professor E. Forbes states that only a small minority of the medusae of our seas are stingers. Owen.

 

© Webster 1913.

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