US Protecting its Troops from Unmanned Aerial Threats in Iraq

A group of Avenger Weapon Systems from MCAS Cherry Point's 2d LAAD BN line up on the firing line to commence firing for FIREX 3-99 at Onslow Beach MCB Camp Lejeune, NC. The Avenger turret bears two 4-round Stinger Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) Standard Vehicle Mount Launnchers (SVML) and an M3P .50 cal Machine Gun.

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The US is likely to deploy mobile short-range AN/TWQ-1 Avenger air defense missile systems in order to protect its troops in Syria and Iraq from the growing threat of enemy drones. 

In late February, photos purportedly showing Avengers being transported on a highway from Iraq to Syria emerged on social media. They were likely being brought to US troops in Syria’s eastern Deir ez-Zor region.

With its FIM-92 Stinger missile launchers, the Avenger is designed for protecting infantry against low-flying aircraft, cruise missiles, helicopters, and drones.

Until early last year, bases hosting U.S. troops in Iraq had no air defense systems. The U.S. has since deployed high-altitude MIM-104 Patriot missiles to these bases alongside short-range C-RAM (Counter-rocket, artillery, and mortar) systems. Yet the Avenger is arguably a much more suitable system for providing ground forces protection against drones, according to 

In early 2020, U.S. troops deployed in Deir ez-Zor’s oil fields were targeted by improvised drones capable of dropping small mortars, munitions which were apparently made using a 3D printer. While they failed to kill or injure anyone they, nevertheless, demonstrated the nature of this new threat U.S. troops now have to deal with.

The Avenger is a turreted short-range air defense (SHORAD) system with two launchers, each capable of holding four FIM-92 Stinger heat-seeking surface-to-air missiles, as well as a .50 caliber M3P machine gun. 

The turret is most commonly employed mounted on the back of a Humvee, but can also be emplaced in fixed positions on the ground and atop structures. 

The system has a single operator who targets threats using a combination of an infrared camera, optical sight, and laser range-finder, according to