Staff Writer (Updated: 3/21/2016):
The most distinct characteristic of this Humvee is obviously its one-man, 360-degree traversable turret fitted onto the rear flatbed. The operator sits in the center of the unit under an angled clear-glass covering with two 4-shot missile launchers to either side of him. Each launcher is fitted with four ready-to-fire Stinger short-range, surface-to-air missiles. The Avenger allows for firing "on-the-go" or from a stationary disposition, providing a truly flexible and adaptable form of air defense protection. The turret can also be removed and used as a stand-alone ground-based component or mounted to the variety of vehicle chassis available to the United States Army while leaving the remaining Humvee M1037 chassis to be reused in other needed roles.
The Avenger turret operator controls the rotation of the turret and utilizes an optical sight in clear weather situations while a sensor package can be relied on for use in other weather situations. Additionally, the operator can put his faith into the integrated Avenger tracking system to take control of turret rotational functions or even operate the turret from within the Humvee passenger cabin if desired. If all else fails, a Stinger missile launcher is carried aboard Avenger Humvees should the turret fail or become damaged.
The aluminum-body, fire-and-forget Stinger missile itself is a vast upgrade from the Cold War-era Redeye missiles it replaced. Stingers have the ability to track and engage inbound enemy aircraft (including helicopters and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) or incoming missiles from any direction (not just from the rear as was the case with the Redeyes) and can sense both ultraviolet and infrared energy forms. The Stinger does showcase an operational limitation in the form of retaining a minimum firing distance requirement before the weapon will arm. As such, the Avenger turret is fitted with a single M3P-series 12.7mm (.50 caliber) heavy machine gun with an allotment of 200 rounds of ammunition for use on targets that come within this minimum arming range.
While the Avenger is characterized as a "short-range" air defense system (each Stinger is ranged out to about 5 miles and at target altitudes of up to 10,000 feet), the relatively new "SLAMRAAM Humvee" is a welcomed addition. The medium-range SLAMRAAM system is intended to operate side-by-side with Avenger units and not act as a direct replacement. Each SLAMRAAM is equipped to fire up to 6 x AIM-120 AMRAAM medium-range surface-to-air missiles. When utilized in conjunction with the Avenger, ground forces have a competent umbrella of protection at both short and medium ranges from incoming enemy attacks.
The Avenger began service with US military forces in 1989 and continue to operate in number as of this writing.