India will purchase some 245 U.S.-made Stinger air-to-air missiles along with launchers and engineering support for its burgeoning fleet of light attack and attack helicopters, according to a press release by the U.S. defense contractor and missile maker Raytheon.
Raytheon notes that an agreement for the purchase of the weapon system has been signed this week by India’s Ministry of Defense and the U.S. Department of Defense. The procurement of the Stinger air-to-air missile is part of a $3.1 billion deal with the United States that includes combat helicopters, weapons, radars and electronic warfare suites.
“India joins nations around the globe who recognize that air-to-air Stinger can be a key component of attack and light attack helicopter mission configurations,” said Duane Gooden, a Raytheon representative. ”Stinger significantly improves the ability of the aircraft to successfully perform today’s missions while countering existing threats.”
Variants of the Stinger missile system are in service with the militaries of 29 nations. The weapon system has been used in combat in a number of major conflicts including the Afghan-Soviet War, the Angolan Civil War, the Yugoslav Wars, the Chechen War and the Falkland War. Raytheon claims that it has shot down more than 270 fixed and rotary wing aircraft. Last year, the United States sold Stingers to South Korea, Taiwan, and Latvia.
“The combination of supersonic speed, agility, highly accurate guidance and control system and lethal warhead gives Stinger the operational edge against all classes of helicopters, UAVs, cruise missiles, and fixed-wing aircraft,” the press release notes. “Stinger not only has a surface-to-air capability from land and sea, but also an air-to-air capability that can be integrated into most fixed- or rotary-wing platforms.”
The Stinger Block I-92H air-to-air missiles sold to India are a variant of the famous shoulder-launched FIM-92 Stinger system. The Stinger is a lightweight missile used for engaging low-altitude targets and either equipped with a fire-and-forget passive infrared seeker or a fire-and-forget passive infrared focal plane array seeker. (One variant of the missile also features an ultraviolet seeker that can distinguish between flares and jet engines.)
The missile is equipped with a 3 kilogram high-explosive (HE) blast fragmentation warhead and is fueled by a dual thrust solid fuel rocket motor. The Stinger has a maximum range of eight kilometers and can reach a top speed of Mach 2.2. The per unit cost is around $38,000.
In September 2015, India and the United States signed contracts for the procurement of 22 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters and 15 CH-47F Chinook heavy-lift helicopters. India will in all likelihood equip its new AH-64E fleet with the Stinger missile. In addition to the Stingers, India has also placed an order for 812 AGM-114L-3 Hellfire Longbow missiles, and 542 AGM-114R-3 Hellfire-II missiles as part of the overall $3.1 billion India-U.S. defense deal.