As of 1.10.2023 the stinger family missile is incapable of locking onto a helicopter beyond the range of 2 kilometers. The strela system is much worse off in range.
This is not only frustrating, but also unrealistic here is how:
many Helicopters offer the ability to install a heat shield. While this can hide the Heat from the front of the turbine, it cannot hide the heat of the blades and especially their tips.
modern IR missiles are able to pic up the Signature of said blade tips.
this is not depiced in warthunder what so ever as far as i am concerned.
This might be the reason we see such a stark underperformance of Stinger/Manpad missiles vs Helicopters.
Not only is this mechanic not modeld but exaust air is also not concidered: as you can see on this Chinook, the turbine has a heatshield, but when hovering the hot air will be spread around the aircraft. Especially on Cold weather maps this should make a giant difference of temerature against background.
even inside a FLIR picture with less dynamic range than the images before you can still see that the blades and especially the tips are way hotter than ambient on this Apache:
again all examples show are to be applied when there is a background to the helicopter.
with no terrain behind the helicopter an image looks like this:
as you can see the helicopter is clearly visible and has a good S/N.
then as our final IR phaenomenon:
even with a heat shield the heat is still also primary and secondary reflected in varios other deriections off off the blades and fuselage.
now bear with me here; this is jsut the Tip of the iceberg… modern Stinger system missiles ( and from now on im only talking about them becasue i am not that familiar with other missile families)
not only use IR, but also UV guidance ( the other side of spectrum from visible light)
the thing with UV is ITS EVERYWHERE even at night… so what you are seeing with the next picture is not heat… but basically the “lack of background UV”
( i cannot find any airplane related stuff on this topic)
so please go ahead and correct me but in my eyes… if you can see smoke that you cant even see in the first picture… you should be avle to see a helicopter…
again UV is also not implemented as of now… but absoluteley shoud…
Edit: UV is implemented butonly in the IRCCM of the Stingers
sources for UV:
Ultraviolet Imaging with Low Cost Smartphone
Sensors: Development and Application of a
Raspberry Pi-Based UV Camera (this is where the image is also from) they are measureing the abcence of UV becasue of a Gas that is UV absorbant)