FORT SILL, Okla. (Jan. 18, 2018) -- Soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C., attended training at the Air Defense Artillery School here recently where they learned to effectively operate and employ the FM-92 Stinger, a man-portable air defense system (MANPADS), late last year.

The students are being tested on the operation of the FM-92 MANPADS, and must successfully engage and destroy four of five simulated airborne targets to pass. For Class 001-18 this will be their final test before moving onto the next phase of the course.

The FM-92 MANPADS uses a shoulder fired Stinger missile to engage enemy airborne assets. This weapon is capable of destroying fixed wing, rotary wing, and unmanned aerial assets. Class 01-18 will be the third class to graduate since the pilot course was launched in April.

The course's purpose is to fill critical manning gaps in air defense coverage of maneuver units, such as the 82nd Airborne. Such gaps in air defense coverage are resultant from the recent rise of near-peer adversaries in multiple theaters equipped with lethal close and tactical air support systems that have the ability to threaten U.S. maneuver forces.

"I would much rather have it and never need it than need it and not have it," said Sgt. Ahkenaten Manson, 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, currently a student in Class 01-18. "I don't know if I will ever have to use this system, but if it's required, I will be ready."

The Maneuver Stinger Course, a five-week class, begins with a week of instruction on Visual Aircraft Recognition. In week two, students are introduced to the FM-92 MANPADS systems and are instructed on maintenance, employment, capabilities, and limitations.

In week three, students learn how to fire the weapon and effectively engage a variety of airborne targets including fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft as well as Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS).

In weeks four and five students cover more advanced topics on FM-92 MANPADS employment and will undergo a five day field training exercise where they will employ the FM-92 MANPADS system against actual drones using a laser based simulator.

With the average cost of an FM-92 Stinger at around $40,000, the Stinger Troop Proficiency Trainer (STPT) used by the 30th Air Defense Artillery Brigade serves as a realistic and cost effective training aid.

The STPT familiarizes Soldiers with the decision making process behind air defense engagements and trains Soldiers to effectively operate the weapon against airborne threats at various angles of attack.

Training on the STPT is a multi-layered, "crawl, walk, run" process. Students first train on static airborne targets before moving onto more dynamic scenarios that involve multiple moving air targets at various angles of attack.

"I think this training will definitely be a benefit to myself and to my unit," said Sgt. Phillip Clough, of 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, "There are a very limited number of NCOs within the Army who can effectively use this weapon system."