In March 1995, the Boeing Company was awarded a contract by the US Army Missile Command for the integration of the Stinger missile launch system on the US Army Bradley Fighting Vehicle. This vehicle is called the Bradley-Linebacker and is designed to provide short range air defence (SHORAD), day/night and in all weather conditions whilst on the move.
It is capable of engaging all threat targets including fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft, cruise missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV’s) within the range of the Stinger missile.
The system uses US Army Avenger Air Defense system hardware and software from inside the vehicle. The Avenger system fires Stinger missiles from an HMMWV vehicle chassis.
Nine Linebacker units were delivered by November 1997, including one prototype and eight initial production units. These units were fielded with the 1-44 Air Defense Artillery, Fort Hood Texas and participated in the US Army Task Force XXI Advanced Warfare Experiment (AWE) in March 1997. This consisted of manoeuvres to develop new tactics, techniques and procedures for the Army of the 21st Century. The US Army ordered a total of 99 Linebacker units, which were fielded with the Third Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, Georgia.
In February 2005, United Defense (now BAE Systems Land & Armaments) was awarded a contract from the US Army’s Tank-automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) to remove the Stinger missile systems from 88 Bradley Linebackers and convert the vehicles to standard M2A2 ODS infantry fighting vehicles. This was completed in 2006.
The Linebacker systems are based on the M2A2 Bradley but the external BGM-71 TOW anti-tank missile launcher is replaced by an armoured Standard Vehicle Mounted Launcher (SVML) on the turret of the vehicle which fires four ready-to-fire Stinger missiles with six missiles carried for reloading. The fire-and-forget Stinger missile is manufactured by Raytheon Missile Systems Company and is a two-stage solid propellant rocket-powered missile.
The current production Stinger missiles are the RMP (Reprogrammable Microprocessor) FIM-92D and the Block I FIM-92E. It has a dual-mode infrared and ultraviolet rosette scan seeker. It is 1.5m long and 70mm in diameter and weighs 10kg at launch with a 3kg HE-FRAG (High Explosive Fragmentation) warhead. Maximum speed is Mach 2.2 and range is 200m to 4.5km. Maximum altitude is 3.8km. The Block I missile has a new roll frequency sensor and an improved processor.
Funding for the development of the Stinger Block II missile, with an imaging infrared seeker based on a focal plane array, was cancelled in 2002.
The Linebacker has the same 25mm ATK Ammunition Systems (formerly Boeing Ordnance) M242 Bushmaster gun that is standard on the Bradley.
The 25mm chain gun is dual-feed and has a standard rate of fire of 200 rounds per minute. it can fire a variety of ammunition, including APDS-T (Armour Piercing Discarding Sabot – Tracer), HEI-T (High Explosive Incendiary – Tracer) and APFSDS-T (Armour Piercing Fin Stabilised Discarding Sabot – Tracer) rounds.
There is also a 7.62mm M240C machine gun mounted coaxially.
On each side of the gun there is an M257 smoke grenade launcher with four smoke grenades.
A digital compass and gyro-stabilised turret allow automatic slew-to-target acquisition on the move. This auto-slew function accurately positions the launcher on a designated target reducing target acquisition time. The shoot-on-the-move capability has been demonstrated at a speed of 40km/h. Target acquisition is provided by the US Army’s forward area air defence Sentinel radar. The Raytheon AN/MPQ-64 Sentinel is a 3D I/J band phased array radar. Acquisition is achieved automatically by a single stroke on the commander’s situation display, which commands the turret to the target line.
Target classification and location symbology are displayed to the gunner in the Raytheon Integrated Sight Unit (ISU). The ISU also displays Stinger missile status and seeker position information to the gunner for positive targeting confirmation before launch. The system includes optical, TV and thermal imaging channels.
The Linebacker communication, command and control equipment is integrated into the SHORAD Command and Control Network by the use of a handheld terminal unit. It is fitted with Enhanced Position Location Reporting System and SINCGARS (Single Channel Guarded Radio System) communications.
The M2A2 Bradley vehicle chassis is manufactured by BAE Systems Land & Armaments (formerly United Defense) to which the Boeing modification kits including Stinger launcher are fitted.
The M2A2 is fitted with applique steel armour, but can also have explosive reactive armour (ERA) if required. It has a Cummins VTA-903T 600hp turbo-charged diesel engine with Lockheed Martin automatic hydro-mechanical transmission. Maximum speeds are 60km/h on road and 6.5km/h on water with road range of over 400km. It is air-transportable by C-141, C-5 and C-17 aircraft.