A Raytheon Stinger missile launcher, mounted on a Stryker armored vehicle, is in the arsenals of more than 20 nations.

Raytheon Co.

Looking to answer an urgent call for new mobile air defense systems, Tucson-based Raytheon Missile Systems has successfully tested a version of its long-lived Stinger surface-to-air missile mounted on a Stryker armored vehicle.

Raytheon said it incorporated its FIM-92 Stinger missile into an existing remote-control weapon station aboard a Stryker during a September demonstration with the U.S. Army at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

During one of several industry demonstrations in September, the Army fired Stinger missiles from the Stryker vehicle “and successfully intercepted airborne targets,” Raytheon said Monday in a new release.

In April, Raytheon successfully tested a new proximity fuze for the Stinger that allows the missiles to destroy targets by detonating at close range, bringing down two small drones in a demonstration at Eglin Air Force Base.

“With so many airborne threats in the battlespace, our ground forces need the protection of additional mobile air defense systems,” said Kim Ernzen, Raytheon Land Warfare Systems vice president. “Combining these two proven systems gives the Army an immediate, low risk, high-value solution.”

The Stinger, originally developed by General Dynamics in the late 1970s, is a lightweight, short-range air defense missile that is deployed in shoulder-launched or “man portable” versions, as well versions adapted to vehicles and helicopters.

It has been used in four major conflicts starting with the Falklands War and is in the arsenals of more than 20 nations as well as all four U.S. military services. Raytheon inherited the Stinger with other former General Dynamics missiles when it acquired the defense business of Hughes Electronics in 1997.

The Stinger already is used as ammo in the Army’s Cold War-era Avenger mobile air-defense system, which is made by Boeing and consists of a modified Humvee fitted with two launchers, each carrying four missiles.

But the Army has cut most of its Avenger units in the past decade or so, and earlier this year, the service issued an urgent request for new short-range air defense, citing drones and other low-level threats.

The Army viewed four demonstrations of such systems at White Sands in September, according to the Army News Service.

For the Stryker and other Army vehicles, Boeing and partner General Dynamics Land Systems demonstrated a new multi-weapon air-defense turret that would incorporate AI-3 missiles — a version of Raytheon’s AIM-9M Sidewinder air-to-air missile — and potentially Hellfire missiles, guided rockets, machine guns or even laser weapons.

Other systems reportedly under consideration are Israel’s Iron Dome system, which uses interceptors co-produced by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Raytheon; and systems offered by Sweden-based Saab and South Korea’s Hanwha Defense Systems.

Contact senior reporter David Wichner at dwichner@tucson.com or 573-4181. On Twitter: @dwichner

Senior reporter covering business and technology for the Arizona Daily Star/Tucson.com