May 28, 1999

U.S. Stinger Missile Used Worldwide

By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) -- At about 35 pounds, the shoulder-fired Stinger missile
that India claims Pakistani forces used to shoot down two aircraft in the
disputed Kashmir region is a favorite of soldiers, terrorists and
guerrillas worldwide.

They're deadly and difficult for pilots to target from the air. They are
also relatively cheap, with a black market price of $50,000 to $80,000 each.

The State Department warned last year of the proliferation over the past
two decades of hundreds of thousands of American-made surface-to-air
Stinger missiles and their foreign-made counterparts.

``In the wrong hands, such exports can endanger our people and empower our
adversaries,'' Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said last year, noting
that's why the United States has imposed restrictions on export of Stingers.

Since the 60-inch Stingers were tested in the late 1970s, about two dozen
countries and groups have acquired them, either by authorized U.S. sales
and agreements or through the black market.

In addition to major European allies, Israel, Japan, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia
and South Korea have Stingers. So do Iran and Qatar, Pakistan, Afghanistan,
Angola and, reportedly, China.

The United States provided about 900 Stingers to guerrillas in Afghanistan
after the Soviet Union invaded in 1979. They have spread to other countries
and groups since, and the United States has been buying back the missiles
where it can. The CIA has reportedly spent more than $55 million on that

The State Department estimates 115 countries and dozens of groups are
equipped with shoulder-fired missiles. Serb forces are using
less-sophisticated Soviet-designed versions against NATO aircraft and
missiles over Yugoslavia, but there is no official word on whether the
shoulder-fired weapons have hit anything.

The United States first used the Stinger in combat during the Grenada
invasion in 1983. Descendants of that missile are still in use by the Army
and by other U.S. forces to a lesser extent. The shoulder-fired version is
used by ground forces, and the Army also puts an air-to-air version aboard
combat helicopters.

The Stinger is fired from a disposable launch tube and requires no field
testing or maintenance, the Army claims. The missile uses infrared seekers
to home in on airplanes and is equipped with a six-pound penetrating warhead.