The Stinger missile developed by the American military ("sting" is translated from English as "sting") can be called one of the first variants of the so-called "smart" weapon.
On the move - into battle
Stinger has many advantages. First of all - the ability to launch from the shoulder, almost on the go. At the same time, it takes only about thirty seconds to prepare the rocket for battle. Aiming at the target is carried out using an infrared scanner, the effective shooting ceiling is about five kilometers, and the rocket speed is about one and a half thousand kilometers per hour. Unlike the previous generation of man-portable anti-aircraft missile systems (MANPADS "Stingers" were equipped with a highly sensitive guidance head, which easily distinguished the heat of aircraft engines from false traps used by aviation to combat homing missiles. fighter.
The first Stingers entered service in West Germany in 1981, and a year later the 82nd US Airborne Division was equipped with smart missiles. It was this division that played the main role in "restoring order" in Grenada in October 1983, but the Americans did not have a chance to use the Stingers at that time.
Sadly, the first targets for smart missiles were our Soviet combat helicopters in Afghanistan.
Dushmans with rockets
According to the memoirs of the field commander of the Mujahideen Mohammad Yusuf, on September 25, 1986, closer to noon, about three dozen "soldiers of the Almighty" secretly made their way to a small skyscraper located just one and a half kilometers from the runway of the Jalalabad airfield. In fact, the Mujahideen, armed with three Stinger launchers and a dozen missiles, found themselves inside the Russian-Afghan positions. Each crew was organized in such a way that three people were shooting, and the other two were holding rocket tubes for quick reloading.
Approximately three hours later, eight Soviet Mi-24 fire support helicopters approached the airfield. The Mujahideen prepared to fire. Another "soldier of the Almighty", armed with a video camera, was shaking with nervous excitement, trying to focus the lens on the rapidly descending helicopters.
When the first helicopter was only two hundred meters above the ground, the command "Fire" was heard, and with shouts of "Allahakbar" the Mujahideen fired a volley at the rotary-wing aircraft. One of the three missiles did not fire and fell without exploding, just a few meters from the group of shooters. But the other two overtook their targets, and both helicopters crashed onto the runway. Emboldened by their success, the Mujahideen reloaded the launchers and managed to fire two more missiles. One of them knocked out the third helicopter, and the second passed by, as our pilot had already managed to land the car on the ground.
The operator ran around throughout the fight. He was so overwhelmed with emotion that the entire recording of this event consisted mostly of blurry pieces of sky, bushes and rocky soil. As a result, only clouds of black smoke accidentally caught in the lens, lazily rising from the crash site of the helicopters, could serve as a confirmation of the successful attack of the Mujahideen. Soon, this recording was shown to President Reagan, and he was given a tube from the first Stinger fired at a combat target as a souvenir.
Change of tactics
In November 1986, the Mujahideen destroyed four of our Su-25 attack aircraft with the help of Stingers. And by September 1987, the losses of Soviet aircraft amounted to a whole squadron.
From that moment on, all combat, transport aircraft and even civilian airliners at the Kabul airport and at all other airports in Afghanistan took off and landed only accompanied by helicopters, continuously firing infrared traps. Only in this way was it possible to escape from the Stingers. In addition, a special tactic was developed for a sharp, spiral-like descent of aircraft due to sky-high heights unattainable for these missiles.
The morale of the Mujahideen was steadily rising. Moreover, the Americans have promised them to supply up to two hundred and fifty launchers a year, plus more than a thousand missiles. Moreover, in order to prevent the sale of missiles "to the side" by irresponsible mujahideen, the US government promised to send an additional two missiles for every Soviet combat vehicle shot down by the Stinger.
The chief designer of the Su-25 attack aircraft V. Babak personally went to Afghanistan and brought from there to Moscow the plane destroyed by the Stinger. Careful research has shown that American missiles primarily hit engines from below and from the side, destroying compressors and turbines in the process. At the same time, the turbine blades were scattered to the sides by a terrible centrifugal force, and as a result they destroyed everything and everyone in their path, destroying the plane much more efficiently than the rocket itself. The designers took this moment into account, and already in August 1987, the Su-25 of increased survivability began to arrive in Afghanistan - with refractory steel control rods, with steel plates on the sides of the engine compartments, with protective mats made of fiberglass and with automatic cut-off of the fuel supply when the fire system is turned on. … To blow off the engines and cool the nozzles, special air intakes were installed, which made the aircraft less attractive for infrared guidance heads. Additionally, the decoy-targeting system has been improved.
How to deal with the "Stinger"
It is clear that the Stingers did not remain for long only in the hands of the Americans and Afghans, who officially received missiles from the United States government. Gradually, the secret weapon ceased to be secret and migrated to other troubled countries to the numerous rebels, or even just to terrorists, who willingly began to use this very formidable weapon.
The rampant terrorists armed with Stingers forced aircraft manufacturers to come to grips with the security issues of both combat and passenger aircraft. For example, not so long ago one of the British corporations developed and successfully tested an anti-missile system, which includes, in particular, technologies designed to protect aircraft from ground-based missiles, including Stinger complexes. This system, according to its creators, constantly scans the surface of the ground in order not to miss the energy flash typical for a rocket launch. If detected, the system fires a laser shot directly into the optics of the attacking missile in order to "blind" and change its trajectory. The cost of installing such equipment on an airplane reaches, according to experts, about a million dollars.
Our designers are keeping up with the West. True, nothing has been heard about the development of such systems that protect passenger aircraft, but something is known about combat vehicles. For example, the famous "Black Shark" - the Kamov K-50 helicopter - easily carries tank armor capable of withstanding a direct hit from a Stinger missile.