Stinger Missile Goes Back Into Production

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MIflyer

1st Lieutenant
6,407
12,471
May 30, 2011
Cape Canaveral
From Avweb:

"Raytheon is pulling long-retired production workers out of their easy chairs and fishing boats to teach the current generation of factory employees how to make Stinger shoulder-launched missiles. Stingers have been out of production for 20 years and the stockpiles in the U.S. and other allies have been depleted by donations to Ukraine. They're still in demand so Raytheon is literally dusting off equipment to get them rolling off the line again. "We're pulling test equipment out of warehouses and blowing the spider webs off them," Wes Kremer, CEO of RDX, Raytheon's parent company, told DefenseOne."

"The defense department and contractors are working on an up-to-date replacement for the Stinger, but it's not ready yet so the Stinger remains the portable missile system of choice for Ukrainian forces. The U.S. alone has shipped 1,700 to the country since it was invaded by Russia in 2022 and it's running out. Since almost no one in the company had ever worked on a Stinger, the company got on the phone and started tracking down ex-employees who could help bring the current staff up to speed on tech that was developed before some of them were born. "We were bringing back retired employees who are in their 70s … to show our new employees how to actually build a Stinger," Kremer said."
 
One would assume that even being out of production some maintenance is required and outdated or defective parts have to be replaced. Of course, in the USAF that kind of maintenance and depot overhauls can be done by the Air Force ordering new parts by open bidding, if the required tech data is on hand, so the original manufacturer need not be involved. But I do not now if that depot approach applies to the Stinger.

One of the problems brought by the War on Terror has been the necessity of focusing resources on less sophisticated combat, and Al Queda et. al, usually does not have aircraft to be shot down. Back in the 1990's we were planning on using Cape Canaveral for the training area for FL National Guard Hawk missile teams so they would not have to go all the way to VAFB on the west coast, but they disbanded those units. Obviously, someone figured that there was a greatly reduced need for air defense by our ground troops.

In the late 70's we were facing problems with maintaining aircraft such as the F-106 because some of the original manufacturers had gone out of business or been bought by other firms and even the technical data had been thrown away. And the companies that owned the data that was available were not interested in making the parts any more and would even give us what data they had and let us find someone else to make the parts.

The Space Shuttle was supposed to replace ALL US space launch systems and in the early 1970's we quit even building new rocket engines for Atlas, Thor, and Delta and just used what we had left over. After the Challenger was lost in Jan 1986 we went back to the some old rockets and it turned out we could no longer buy some of the parts required to build new rocket engines.

It is said that one of the errors made by militaries is that they plan to fight the last war; that also equates to failing to plan to fight the one before that.
 
Near the end of my time in the USMC, that supply issue produced a curious (and scary) situation.

The heart of the problem was that virtually no electronics built in the "Western" world used vacuum tubes (1920s-50s tech), having become all "solid-state", so no "western" company made any more vacuum tubes.

The DEW line of radar stations across the northern US and across Canada had all been built in the 1950s & early 1960s, and had never been updated.
About 1984 NORAD ran out of its supply of spare vacuum tubes of a certain type, and none could be found anywhere... except one place. Poland!

Yes, we ended up going through several shell entities and even different nations in order to buy, from a Warsaw Pact nation, the tubes needed to keep operating our first line of detection of missiles from Warsaw Pact nations!
 
The heart of the problem was that virtually no electronics built in the "Western" world used vacuum tubes (1920s-50s tech), having become all "solid-state", so no "western" company made any more vacuum tubes.
Yes, I am an amateur radio operator with a special interest in vintage equipment and I am aware of that. There have been efforts to build solid state equivalents for electron tubes and I have played around with that a bit myself - but that is only for the low power applications.
At the Cape we had to adapt the 1950's radars to more modern radar tubes.
 

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