The Stinger missile is something that appears in the news every time there is an armed conflict involving United States forces. It also appears after certain airline accidents -- the one involving TWA flight 800 is a recent example. The reason we hear so much about the Stinger in these contexts is because the Stinger missile is an extremely effective weapon for shooting down aircraft. The missile uses an infrared seeker to lock on to the heat in the engine's exhaust, and will hit nearly anything flying below 11,000 feet.
In this edition of HowStuffWorks, you will have a chance to learn about the Stinger missile. What sorts of aircraft can it hit? Why is it so effective? You will also learn about the role of the Stinger missile in Afghanistan.