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During a recent US Army test, a pair of Raytheon Stinger anti-air missiles equipped with new proximity fuzes intercepted two small unmanned airborne systems—an MQM-170C Outlaw and an unidentified smaller system—for the first time. Proximity fuzes allow missiles to destroy targets by making contact or by detonating in close range, according to Raytheon’s announcement on its website.
The Stinger weapon system is a lightweight, self-contained air defense system that can be rapidly deployed by ground troops and on military platforms. It is combat proven in four major conflicts and is now deployed in more than 18 nations and with all four U.S. military services.
“Stingers are usually loaded with direct impact warheads, which is appropriate for larger targets such as cruise missiles and aircraft,” said Kim Ernzen, vice president of Raytheon’s Land Warfare Systems product line. “The new proximity fuze gives ground forces the ability to engage small, elusive targets using a proven, familiar system.”
U.S. and coalition partners deploy Stinger in multiple configurations, including man-portable, helicopter air-to-air, and ground-based vehicle applications.
According to shephardmedia.com, as part of the ‘Stinger service life extension program’, which began in 2014, the upgraded FIM-92J Stinger missiles have been fitted with proximity fuses to enhance their capability.
In December 2016, the US Navy demonstrated the potential effectiveness of proximity fuse technology against UAV targets when it successfully destroyed two Outlaw UAVs during tests of its Spike miniature guided weapons system.
The counter-UAV tests follow the release of the US Army’s Counter-Unmanned Aircraft Strategy in October 2016, which explained the focus on countering the threat of small UAVs was because they ‘pose challenges to the force that are less effectively countered by existing integrated air and missile defense capabilities’.
The strategy stated that due to ‘their ease of proliferation and low/slow kinematic profile, especially in congested airspace’ small UAVs represent a key threat confronting the US Army.