The recent American offer of selling 245 Stinger missiles to India is too little too late and should not be taken as a favour from the Americans, strategic sources said.
There are several reasons for this. First of all the Stinger’s performance is not as commendable as the Americans are claiming and as it was during the Afghan War two decades ago. During the Afghan War, the kill rate of the Stingers was as high as 60 to 70 per cent.
Moreover, the Americans had given many times more Stingers to Pakistan two decades ago. A credible estimate is that the United States had given anywhere between 1500 to 2500 Stingers to Pakistan, 500 of which were siphoned off by Pakistan for its own use. Many Stinger missiles landed up in countries like China and Iran, putting a question mark on the reliability of Pakistan in dealing with imported, sensitive military ware.
The toothlessness of Stingers was demonstrated during the Kargil War of 1999 when it took the trenched-up Mujahideen to down one single Indian Air Force helicopter after firing 20 Stingers. Most importantly, the “efficacy” of Stingers has not been proven anywhere else in the world, including in training exercises and field trials. In many cases, a Stinger-hit aircraft was not severely damaged, disabled or destroyed.
The relevant question is: whether the Americans are trying to offload an obsolete and over-rated missile to India, that too in small numbers, in the name of the Indo-US strategic partnership?