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Stingers and larger world concerns. . .

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posted on May, 27 2013 @ 11:43 AM
I'm not sure if this is the right forum, but it's more a musing to get folks considering something than reporting a specific news story. My thoughts today are on Stinger Missiles.

Global Security also has an extensive analysis and pretty much has what appears to be an operators manual for function and servicing of the Stinger Missile System. It's not 100% complete but I think a function I knew about these is no longer considered public, as I can't find mention of it anywhere.

I'll say that much because it was so public in the 80's, a major TV show had it mentioned in a show plot. I'll leave it by saying the manual is missing one detail and it's one to make the Stinger very special in what it can do for someone holding one...special or scary. Anyway, back to what I do have.

Stinger Anti-Aircraft Missile System Specs and Operation

....and to round out the familiarization with what this weapons system is, I found an old DOD report that from back when these were first being introduced for a look at how the quality of the people firing it impacted the results to be had with it. I'd imagine it was pretty sensitive stuff for a report in the 80's. Given that the Stinger is still well described as one of the most lethal and advanced AA Portable Missiles in the world, it seems like it may still be somewhat relevant. (It's short enough to read through without much trouble and details additional things about the Stinger operation and such)

80's DOD report on quality of operators vs. outcome with Stinger Missiles

Now the history that makes for concerning thoughts today comes in two parts and both parts are important here for seeing what level of problem may actually exist. First, we need to consider another time and place. Afghanistan, where a different war had been going on.

History of the Stinger in troubled times -Afghanistan / 1980's

There is no possible way to understate the impact of the Stinger Missile being introduced into the Afghan theater of war under Soviet Occupation. (No pun intended). According to reports sourced in "Charlie Wilson's War" (The book, not the movie...I never got around to the movie, either way), the pilots of the Hind Gunships came to be known as Cosmonauts is a derogatory way for how they wouldn't come low enough to be shot by one. Prior to that, they'd comfortably strafe a village, sometimes in a hover, as ground fire doesn't do much to those flying battleships.

Outside Jalalabad, Afghanistan, 25 years ago this week, an angry young man named Abdul Wahab Quanat recited his prayers, walked onto a farm field near a Soviet airfield, raised a Stinger missile launcher to his shoulder and shot his way into history.

It was the first time since the Soviet invasion seven years earlier that a mujahedeen fighter had destroyed the most feared weapon in the Soviet arsenal, a Hind attack helicopter. The event panicked the Soviet ranks, changed the course of the war and helped to break up the USSR itself.

and the one bit of solid statistics I was afraid of finding when I first started thinking about this..........

The Taliban emerged on top, and the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency spent years trying to recover 600 unused Stingers, including 53 that found their way to Mullah Omar, the Taliban leader who hosted Osama bin Laden during the 9/11 attacks, according to the book "Ghost Wars" by Steve Coll.

They kept their Stingers. At least some of them, they kept them. I'll bet they even kept them neatly in their cases, such as they got them in across the Afghan mountains back then. and in as clean and sound a condition as they could manage. case. In case of what? Well... The Stinger has a little Zinger that it's important to mention at this point.

The Stinger Zinger

As this reports:

General Dynamics / Raytheon Development of Stinger Missiles

The whole system is based around a BCU or very proprietary, advanced and unique battery unit. The next link is to a book on the subject and cites examples of a year of useful life in weapons recovered during and after the Soviet/Afghan war but also a shelf life of 10 years, which I'd assume would be outside ranges and in good conditions

The Stinger Missile and Afghanistan

It bugs me that they kept them. Why, if not to hopefully get fresh BCU's at a future point? Some of the above information that I've linked indicates that is the weak link, with much of the rest of the system being maintenance free and relatively stable to store over the long term with reliable function later. If only fresh American BCU's could be had. Where? Oh where...

Stingers come to Libya?

Okay, this is where my thinking got a little ugly and didn't improve as I read more spec/tech sheets on the Stinger MANPAD. First, this isn't the type of things the US exports as a regular course of business. There is a chopped version ..or was, for capability and function that got some export, but generally speaking? These are something close to a myth to actually get hands on for viable and fully operational versions.

The first link with the owners manual type information also specifies something about these and how they ship. They are basically one shot BCU battery units. Once it's been activated and used, it's junk. So, they helpfully send spares. Yes... SPARE batteries. 3 per shipping crate, according to the tech material.

So just how many, if any (If that theory of Benhgazi holds water) of these were sent to Libya? How many fresh, new Stingers were sent along and into the "wild" to be lost in the crowds?

Bottom Line

I think Stinger Missiles may have been given to rebels, who elements of the US Government were so eager to support, they never stopped to think it through in any proper way for how it COULD be a real BAD idea.

The rumors, as it would seem they are now, are that Stinger distribution came from the State Dept and not CIA. So, we're hoping people in State would know a Stinger from a Scorpion for giving them the right model and right number of batteries, etc etc... No mistakes or extras of course. (No one would ask, right?)

If the older ones out of the Afghanistan Conflict really DO work as advertised and concerns were running as recently as 2002 for finding the last of, then a new shot of battery power could be a bad thing.

I know from extensive reading about it that the CIA was fanatic about Stingers in the 1980s. One fired tube got 1 fresh launcher. No trade, no new missile to shoot. Real tight control on number and conditions, even then. Would State have been half as careful, given who these went to? How many....x's 3 batteries each, went out to Jihadi Fighters? ...who really do see themselves as fighting across a whole region. Not a bunch of little, entirely unrelated battles, IMO.
edit on 27-5-2013 by Wrabbit2000 because: fixed subline


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