MANPADS Missiles and Overload: The Technical Details

Today, experts from the War Thunder development team are going to be talking about the technical aspects of calculating the effect of overload of MANPADS missiles.

A significant number of reports recently refer to the available overload of MANPADS missiles: Igla, Stinger, Mistral and others. Comprehensive information about missiles isn’t always available, for example, on the zones of destruction of maneuvering targets. Because of this, we’d like to note that when analyzing the flight model of missiles, we carry out a comparative analysis with those structurally similar missiles where information is actually available.

All MANPADS missiles with an infrared seeker presented in the game are structurally made according to the “canard” aerodynamic design with control using a single-channel control scheme for a rolling airframe missile. A pair of rudders serves to alternately control the missile in pitch and yaw, and the second fixed pair serves as fixed destabilizers and is designed to shift the aerodynamic focus of the missile forward, closer to the center of mass.


Control section of the MANPADS 9M39. Source: “Техническая подготовка командира взвода ПЗРК 9К38 “Игла””, И. Акулов, В. Байдаков, А. Васильев, 2011.

This design solution is based on size and weight requirements and can significantly reduce the mass of the missile, which is why it has found application in MANPADS missiles and some ATGM missiles. However, the use of this design solution also leads to a decrease in the average available overload and imposes special features on the steering surface control scheme.


Control section of the MANPADS FIM-92 Stinger. Source: MANPADS. A Terrorist Threat to Civilian Aviation? B.I.C.C.

With a single-channel relay control of a rolling airframe missile, to create a control force in any direction of flight, the rudders are moved by the servomotor mechanism from one outermost position to another four times per revolution of the missile’s rotation. This rudder control scheme makes it possible to regulate the resulting overload and therefore ensure proportional guidance of the missile.


Source: “Техническая подготовка командира взвода ПЗРК 9К38 “Игла””, И. Акулов, В. Байдаков, А. Васильев, 2011.

The duration of the control surfaces being in each position determines the magnitude of direction of the resulting missile overload.


Change in the resulting forces along the pitch and roll axis and the position of the missile’s rudders during maneuver in the pitch plane and the required resulting force of 70% of the maximum.


Changes in the resulting forces along the pitch and roll axis and the position of the missile’s rudders in the absence of a resulting control force

If it’s necessary to create the maximum resulting force, the rudders are deflected twice per revolution of the missile.


Changes in the resulting forces along the pitch and roll axis and the position of the missile’s rudders during maneuver in the pitch plane while achieving the maximum resulting force.

The way the resulting force in the missile maneuver plane changes can be represented in a simplified form as a half-wave of a sine wave. The average resulting force in the maneuver plane over a half-period of rotation is equal to the integral of the change of the resultant force in the maneuver plane. Dividing it by the integral of the resulting force in the plane of the maneuver of a non-rolling airframe missile over the same time period, we obtain the ratio of maximum overload to the average overload over the rotation period.


Therefore, the average resulting force over half a rotation period for a missile with a single-channel control system in relay mode will be 63.66% compared to the same non-rotating missile performing a maneuver in the plane of the control surfaces. The ratio is also the same for the average available overload to the peak one when the rudders are in the maneuver plane.

Because of this feature, when analyzing the maneuvering capabilities of MANPADS missiles, we rely not only on the maximum overload indicated in the documents, but also on the weapon engagement zones and conduct a comparative analysis of missiles by mass and area of aerodynamic surfaces. For MANPADS missiles, we reliably know the maneuvering capabilities of the 9M39 with available overload of 10.2G, which is confirmed not only by the overload in technical documentation, but also by the size of the engagement and kill zones of maneuvering targets.


Engagement and kill zones of 9M39 MANPADS on a target with a speed of 310m/s performing a maneuver with an overload of 8g.

For other MANPADS systems, open sources indicate a higher overload such as 18, 20 and even 25g in the case of the Mistral 1 MANPADS. However, these MANPADS systems have only slight differences in the area of aerodynamic surfaces compared to the 9M39, so a multiple increase in average achievable overload compared to the 9M39 cannot be expected. We believe that the slightly higher overload of other MANPADS systems is mainly due to the slightly higher maximum speed of the missiles in comparison with the 9M39 MANPADS missile. Therefore, we assume that for the MANPADS FN-6, FIM-92 and Mistral, the documents indicate the peak overload achieved at the moment when the rudders are in the maneuver plane. With this assumption, the average available overload for the half-cycle of rotation of these MANPADS will be 63% of the peak and will be consistent with the data on the available overload of the 9M39 MANPADS.

Within the game, due to technical limitations, even in the case of single-channel relay control, we use two-channel proportional control of missiles. Therefore, the maximum overload for the autopilot of MANPADS missiles in the game was set to the average overload of a real missile over a half-period of rotation. In the missile’s stat card, we also display the average overload for the half-period of rotation of the missile, which gives players a greater understanding of the capabilities of the missile than the peak overload, which is achieved only at the moment the plane of the control surfaces coincides with the plane of the missile maneuver would have given.

With all of the above in mind, we have made the following changes:

  • FIM-92 Stinger, ATAS(AIM-92) — available overload has been increased from 10G to 13G. Autopilot parameters have been adjusted, missile dynamics have been altered.
  • Mistral, Mistral SATCP — available overload has been increased from 12G to 16G. Autopilot parameters have been adjusted, missile dynamics have been altered.

We hope that we were able to explain the principles of calculating the overload parameters for MANPADS missiles in War Thunder in general terms, the specifics of their implementation and explain the difference between the average and peak overload values on the flight trajectory. Thanks for reading.


This will blow up soon.


I understand it yet dont at the same time, I see why you had trouble figuring out what to give it lol. As for if it’s right or not I’ll let the people smarter than me work that out but good job.


I wish to ask for clarification on this point.

You say the sources indicate 25g for the mistral 1, but you cannot see how that can be the case. Are you saying that the absolute peak during one part of the rotation is 25g and the average you calculate is 16g, or are you saying that you don’t believe the sources which say 25g for the mistral?


Lets sum this up: “Russian MANPADs are low G therefore others cant be higher right?”


This really boils down to, well since the Igla couldn’t, clearly the western MANPADs couldn’t.



Also: what happened to the “we won’t use Russian sources for Western equipment” rule? Seems like this rule only works when Russian sources state Western gear behaves better than expected, doesn’t it?


ah yes… ‘‘our manpads sucks, so yours must too…’’ great argument gaijin as always.


Lol. So you don’t believe a primary source. So you ignore it. You are losing what credibility that you have. So what is the point of bug reports if you are just going to ingnore the evidence.


They don’t believe western tech can be significantly better then soviet tech basically


As someone has already pointed out. Why are russian sources suddenly applicable for western technology and why are they regarded as more trustworthy than western sources?


so you disregard sources because “huh duh USSR couldnt” what a joke, no wonder the abrams got the shaft


Gaijin: Russian sources cannot be used as a source to balance/influence western technology, as stated by Gaijin in the Abrams Armor dev blog.

Also Gaijin: Russian sources show that the Igla missile have the same control surface size as western technology therefore western missile cannot pull harder than the Igla.

My brother in Christ, the double standards.


they are straight up just pull crap out of there behind now, 2 blogs with a few days between them flat out contradict there OWN statements about sources :D but yh lets assume because Igla’s cannot therefor the Mistral 1s cannot perform, all because “they look similar on control surfaces” thats flat out making stuff up now, they have ZERO SOURCE proving this stuff.


Gaijin when Abrams: We need official documents with exact values and we will not assume anything.

Gaijin when Stinger/Mistral: Offical documents are flawed and we will make chanes based on assumption.





Ohh because Russia couldn’t do it noone else can… Got ya…


So What happen to not using Russian sources for western tech. it’s convenient atm so now its ok?


true that is super hypocritical, they didn’t build the thing they have no idea how any of the control software works, and their Russian sources sure won’t either.