Magazine article National Defense

Marines Ponder Stinger Missile Replacement

Magazine article National Defense

Marines Ponder Stinger Missile Replacement

Article excerpt

Marine Corps officials are mulling over proposals to replace the 25-year-old Stinger guided missile. A program to develop a substitute could begin as early as 2008, as the current inventory will reach the end of its shelf life during the next five to 10 years.

The Army and Marine Corps employ the Stinger as an air-defense weapon. It is launched from trucks and armored vehicles, or can be shoulder-fired by individuals.

As a stopgap, while it decides on a replacement, the Corps will upgrade its entire fleet of Stinger launchers. As part of a $13 million project that began in September, the Marines will get 188 refurbished air-defense vehicles, known as "advanced manpads" (man-portable air defenses). The new system, built on a four-door Humvee truck, will replace the two-door Avengers and current manpads-rack vehicles, said a Marine Corps Systems Command spokesman. The upgraded vehicles will continue to use the Stinger missile and the existing communications and command and control systems. The trucks also will be outfitted with machine guns and armor kits.

The 1st, 2nd and 3rd Marine Aircraft Wings will each receive 60 launchers. Six will go to the Stinger Gunner School at Fort Bliss, Texas, and two will remain at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Crane, Ind., where the systems were designed and built.

A concept for a Stinger replacement could begin to take shape as early as 2008, said Marine It. Col. Lewis E. Wood, program manager for manpads. "We are in the process of developing requirements," he told National Defense.

One consideration is whether the next generation of Stinger will be designed to hit both air and ground targets. "One of the Iraq lessons is that units have to fill whatever role they need to fill," Wood said. The upshot is that Stingers occasionally may need to be employed as "force protection" weapons against both airborne and ground threats. …

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