As everyone knows Gaijin recently posted a dev blog explaining their decision to give the Stinger a 13g overload in game. Their view is that the Stinger uses single channel control (which is correct), and that the documents giving a maximum overload of 20-22 g “indicate the peak overload achieved at the moment when the rudders are in the manoeuvre plane” and that as a result the average overload of the missile will be 63% of the peak overload (13 g). It is the second part of their reasoning I take issue with, I am making this post to explain why in my view the source giving 20 g for the Stinger missile is almost certainly referring to what Gaijin call “average overload”, rather than the “peak overload” as they claim. There are multiple factors which strongly indicate that this is the case.
Let’s start by discussing the source for the 20g claim, as mentioned in my original report it is CTTO/6/5/Air CTTO Jaguar Tactics Manual. As the name suggests the Central Tactics and Trials Organisation (CTTO) is in charge of developing tactics for RAF pilots to use, and organising trials conducted by the RAF. Part of their job is to produce tactics manuals for RAF aircraft, these manuals cover a wide range of topics related to operating the aircraft, and in the case of the Jaguar tactics manual about 80 pages are dedicated to discussing the performance characteristics of various air-defence systems a Jaguar pilot may encounter, and how best to deal with them. This is the section which contains the detailed description of the Stinger missile system.
Here is the full section on the Stinger missile, you will note that it is based on a technical analysis CTTO conducted of the Stinger missile system. As the Stinger missile was in service with British forces a decade prior to the publication of this manual the numbers can be considered trustworthy.
You can see that the lateral acceleration is listed as 20g. Lets now discuss my reasons for believing this figure is the “average” overload, rather than the “peak” overload.
This is quite a simple point; the purpose of the tactics manual is to inform the Jaguar pilot about the threats they will face in combat. If you were a pilot reading this manual you wouldn’t care what the maximum amount of g the missile can pull for a tiny fraction of a second while the canards are perfectly aligned with your aircraft is (the peak g), that information just isn’t relevant. You would want to know how many g the missile can maintain while it is chasing you down (the average g).
The as I mentioned the Jaguar tactics manual devotes about 80 pages to discussing various air defence systems the pilot may have to face, and for most of these missiles it gives the known, or believed (for some soviet missiles) lateral acceleration. The vast majority of these missiles are not rolling airframe missiles so it would make sense for the average overload to be given for rolling missiles in order to allow the pilot to accurately assess the threat posed by different missiles. Particularly given that the manual provides various tables for comparing missiles, such as the following:
As an example here is the page describing the I-HAWK, it sates the maximum lateral acceleration of the missile is 13 g, in comparison to 20 g for the Stinger. If the 20 g figure was actually the peak overload for the Stinger then the manual would be misleading for the pilot, as it would be implying that Stinger has a far greater overload than the I-HAWK, while in reality the average overload of the two missiles would be the same at 13 g. It therefore makes sense that the 20 g figure would be the average overload of the Stinger, allowing for the pilot to make an accurate assessment of the different threat levels posed by the two missiles. If the 20 g figure for the Stinger was the peak overload as Gaijin claim then you would expect this to be clearly communicated so that the pilot is not mislead as to the missile’s capabilities.
As another example of here is the page for the SA-2 SAM. You can see that it is assessed as 6 - 8g (which aligns with Soviet documentation on the missile).
This Soviet graph shows how many G the SA-2 can pull at each altitude:
My final reason for believing that the Stinger has 20 g average overload is the level of lethality the manual describes for the Stinger. If you look at other missile systems, which have a lateral acceleration in the 8 - 17 g region, they are described in the manual as being able to be defeated by aircraft manoeuvring.
By comparison the section on defeating the Stinger reads:
The Stinger is most difficult to defeat, but can be negated pre-emptively prior to missile launch. The following countermeasures are assessed to provide some protection against the Stinger:
a. Flares, one every 2 seconds within an area of known Stinger activity, may be effective prior to missile launch. In a reactive situation, flares should be dropped at the same rate, whilst the aircraft is manoeuvred, to reduce the angle between its flight path and the missile axis.
b. The firing of AAM, as an end-game tactic, may decoy an in-flight Stinger.
If the Stinger really did have an average acceleration of only 13 g then you would expect the manual to state it can be defeated by manoeuvre like the other missiles with this level of overload. Instead the manual paints a picture of the Stinger being exceptionally hard to defeat with all of the advice focusing on trying to defeat the IR seeker of the missile rather than defeat it kinematically.
I should note that while the manual does describe manoeuvring as part of the process for Stinger, it states that the aircraft should be manoeuvred to “reduce the angle between its flight path and the missile axis”. Aligning your aircraft’s flight path with that of the missile is not something you would do if you were trying to “dodge” the missile. So it sounds like for head on launches the purpose of this advice is to get the missile as close to perfectly head on as possible, to increase the effectiveness of flares (as the aircraft’s IR signature is significantly lower when directly head on); while for tail-on launcher the purposes is to simply try and out run the missile’s limited range.
With that in mind lets look at how other missiles are advised to be dodged.
SA-2 (6-8 g):
SA-9 (17 g):
I-HAWK (13 g):
You will notice that even the SA-9, with 17g overload, is made to sound significantly easier to dodge than the Stinger. This clearly would not be the case if Stinger was only capable of 13 g average overload.
Thanks for taking the time to read this post, let me know what you think.