Air Defense: July 6, 2003


While the Patriot system got a lot of publicity during the Iraq campaign, overlooked were the many capable systems available for use against enemy helicopters, cruise missiles and UAVs. There are the Avenger and Linebacker systems. Both mount four Stinger missiles in launch containers, and fire control is either via the gunners sight or from information passed on from a Sentinel radar system (with a 40 kilometers range). While the Stingers have a range of 4.5 kilometers, there are 18-24 Avenger or Linebacker systems in each division, plus a dozen or so more at Corps level. The Avenger is carried in a HMMWV, which is armed with a .50 caliber machine-gun as well. Linebacker is mounted in a Bradley armored vehicle (where the Stingers replace the TOW anti-tank missiles usually carried), that also has its 25mm cannon. So far, no one has provided Avenger or Linebacker with any battlefield targets, although the system has been tested against jets, helicopters, cruise missiles and UAVs successfully.


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