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FIM-43 Redeye

Template:Infobox Weapon

The General Dynamics FIM-43 Redeye was a man-portable surface-to-air missile system. It used infrared homing to track its target. Production was terminated in September 1969 after about 85,000 rounds had been built - in anticipation of the Redeye II, which later became the FIM-92 Stinger. The Redeye was withdrawn gradually between 1982 and 1995 as the Stinger was deployed.


In 1948 the United States Army began seeking new infantry air-defense weapons, as machine guns were ineffective against new fast jets. Several gun/rocket systems were investigated but none were promising. In the mid-1950s Convair began studies of a man portable infrared guided missile. In November 1956 the results of these studies were shown to the US Army and USMC. In 1957 official requirements were formulated, and in 1958 Convair was awarded a contract to start development of the system.

In July 1959 the development project began, in March 1960, the first test rounds were fired. Launches from a launch tube followed in May 1961, with a shoulder launch occurring in 1961. Technical problems prevented the missile entering full production: the missile did not live up to its specifications - being slower, less maneuverable and less accurate. During the testing, substantial use was made of the Atlantic Research MQR-16 Gunrunner expendable target missile.

Limited production began as XM41 Redeye Block I. The missile was designated XMIM-43A in June 1963. Block I systems were then evaluated between 1965 and 1966.

File:Redeye launcher comparison.png
The block I/II launcher above, the block III launcher below.

Block II systems designated XM41E1 began development in 1964, the missile being designated XMIM-43B. The missiles were delivered in April 1966, and included a new gas-cooled detector cell, a slightly redesigned launcher and an improved warhead.

In 1965 to 1966 General Dynamics developed the final Redeye Block III configuration, designated at first XM41E2 with XFIM-43C missiles. The missiles retained the seeker from the Block II missile, but included a new rocket motor, warhead and fuze. The launcher now had an XM-62 open sight and upgraded electronics. The new missile could turn at up to 3g. The missile achieved a kill probability against F9F tactical drones travelling at 430 knots at an altitude of 100 meters of 0.51. From this it was calculated that the kill probability versus a Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 at similar altitude would be 0.403, and 0.53 against helicopters (specifically the Mi-6 and US H-13 and H-21). Kill probability against larger propeller driven aircraft like the AN-12 was estimated at 0.43.[1] Production of the Block III systems began in May 1967. In 1968 Block III was declared operational.


50 Redeye systems were delivered to the mujahideen by the US during the Soviet war in Afghanistan in 1984,[2] where they were used to shoot down a number of aircraft including several Su-25 jets as well as Mi-24 and Mi-8 helicopters.[3] By November 1986 it had largely been replaced by the dramatically more successful FIM-92 Stinger missiles.

The Redeye was known as Hamlet in Danish service and as RBS 69 in Swedish service.

The Redeye was also used by the Nicaraguan "Contras" to shoot down at least four Soviet Mi-8 helicopters during the Nicaraguan Revolution. These were provided to the FDN by the U.S.


The missile is fired from the M171 missile launcher. First the seeker is cooled to operating temperature and then the operator begins to visually track the target using the sight unit on the launcher. Once the target is locked onto by the missile a buzzer in the launcher hand grip begins vibrating, alerting the operator. The operator then presses the trigger, which fires the initial booster stage and launches the missile out of the tube at a speed of around 80 feet per second (25 m/s). As the missile leaves the tube spring-loaded fins pop out, four stabilizing tail fins at the back of the missile, and two control surfaces at the front of the missile. Once the missile has travelled six meters, the sustainer motor ignites. The sustainer motor takes the missile to its peak velocity of Mach 1.7 in 5.8 seconds. 1.25 seconds after the sustainer is ignited, the warhead is armed.[1]

The missile's seeker is only capable of tracking the hot exhausts of aircraft, which limits the engagements to tail-chase only. The missile's blast fragmentation warhead is triggered by an impact fuze requiring a direct hit. As a first generation missile it is susceptible to a variety of countermeasures including flares and hot brick jammers. In addition, its inability to turn at a rate greater than 3 G means that it can be outmaneuvered if detected.


File:Redeye Surface to Air Missile Launch.jpg
A FIM-43C Redeye missile just after launch before the sustainer motor ignites.
  • Block I FIM-43/XFIM-43A/XMIM-43A -
  • Block II FIM-43B/XFIM-43B/XMIM-43B - Fitted with a gas cooled seeker and improved warhead and fuse and modified launcher.
    • XFEM-43B Experimental test missile, with data logging capability
  • Block III FIM-43C/XFIM-43C Production version - Improved warhead and fuse section, and a new launcher.
    • XFEM-43C Experimental test missile, with data logging capability
  • FIM-43D Upgraded missile, with unknown capabilities.

Comparison chart

System 9K32M Strela-2M
(missile: 9M32M)
9K34 Strela-3
(missile: 9M36)
FIM-43C Redeye
Service entry 1968 1974 1968
Weight of system
ready to shoot
15 kg 16 kg 13.3 kg
Missile weight 9.8 kg 10.3 kg 8.3 kg
Length 1.44 m 1.47 m 1.40 m
Warhead weight 1.17 kg 1.17 kg 1.06 kg
Warhead type Directed-energy
blast fragmentation
blast fragmentation
Blast fragmentation (M222)
Warhead explosive content 0.37 kg HMX 0.37 kg HMX
and 20g secondary charge[4]
0.36 kg HTA-3
Missile engagement aspect Tail-chase only Limited forward hemisphere
(all-aspect) capability
Tail-chase / limited forward-hemisphere
(depending on conditions and version)
Seeker type Uncooled
PbS detector element
(1–2.8 µm sensitivity range).
PbS detector element
(2–4.3 µm sensitivity range).
Gas-cooled (FIM-43A:
Peltier cooled)
PbS detector element
Seeker modulation AM-modulated (spin scan) FM-modulated (conical scan) AM-modulated
Maximum range 4,200 m 4,100 m 4,500 m
Missile speed 500 m/s 450 m/s 580 m/s
Maximum speed target speed 260 m/s (receding) 310 m/s (receding) 225 m/s
Engagement altitude 0.05-2.3 km 0.03-2.3 ... 3.0 km 0.05-2.7 km


See also


External links