Crotale NG at the Paris Air Show, 2007
|Place of origin||France|
|Used by||See Operators|
|Wars||South African Border War|
|Number built||6,000 missiles (R440)|
|Warhead weight||13 kg|
|VT-1: 11 km
Mk3: 16 km
|Flight ceiling||VT-1: 6,000 m
Mk3: 9,000 m
|semi-active radar homing
Infra-red search and track
The Crotale EDIR (Ecartométrie Différentielle InfraRouge, "InfraRed Differential Ecartometry") is an all-weather short-range anti-air missile, which can be used to intercept low-flight anti-ship missiles and aircraft. It has been developed by Thomson CSF Matra and exists in two versions, a mobile land-based version and a ship-launched one.
Originally the Crotale R440 system was developed by Rockwell International and Thomson-Houston (and Mistral) in France for South Africa, where it got the name Cactus. However, the achievements of the system impressed the French Armed Forces, who purchased the system both for the air force and for the navy.
The firing system includes the main sensors of the ship, the firing system of the turret, and a central coordination system. The turret holds eight missiles ready for launch in watertight containers. The magazine behind the turret holds 18 missiles.
The French army first utilised a 4x4 wheeled vehicle, armed with four launchers. In order to ensure higher mobility, it was decided to mount the system on the chassis of the French AMX-30 main battle tank. At the same time, the number of launchers were increased to six. In Finnish Army service, the Crotale NG system has been mounted on Sisu Pasi vehicles. Here the number of launchers is eight.
The Crotale system has also been installed on various military ships. For instance the French Navy La Fayette class frigates have a Crotale 8-tubed launcher near the helicopter flight deck.
A modernized version, the Crotale NG (New Generation), entered production in 1990. This version used the new VT-1 missile with Mach 3.5 speed, load factor to 35G, 11 km range, 13 kg warhead (8m kill-zone) and 6,000 m ceiling. The system includes a S-band Pulse Doppler radar (20 km), Ku-band TWT tracking radar (30 km), Thermal camera (19 km), Daylight CCD camera (15 km), and an IR localiser.
In 1999, the Republic of Korea Armed Forces awarded a contract to Samsung Thales to jointly develop a South Korean-augmented Crotale NG system for the K-SAM Pegasus short range air defense system. A new sensor system was jointly developed by Samsung and Thales to meet the required operational capability of the upcoming K-SAM Pegasus, as well as a new indigenous missile by LIG Nex1. The electronics and radars were developed by Samsung Electronics. Doosan DST integrated this modified Crotale NG system with a K200 vehicle. 48 units were initially produced for a price-tag of 330 million Euros. A second batch of 66 units was ordered in 2003, valued at 470 million Euros.
Thales revealed an updated Crotale NG system with Shikra radar at the Paris Air Show in 2007. The system combines Crotale Mk3 VT-1 missile and Shikra multi-beam search radar, with 150 km (detection range). Thales has demonstrated that the system's VT-1 missile has extended range to 15 km.
The Crotale missile system consists of two components; a vehicle for transport, equipped with 2-8 launchers, a tracking radar is located between the launchers. A second vehicle carries the surveillance radar. The radar surveillance vehicle can be connected to several launcher vehicles, in order to achieve an effective air-defence system. The Crotale NG has incorporated both the launcher and the surveillance radar in one vehicle.
The missile is driven by solid-propellant fuel. It can reach its maximum speed of Mach 2.3 within only two seconds and then follows the radar beam, until its infrared fuze senses that it is near its target and explodes.
The surveillance radar and fire direction radar has a range of 20 km and the TV-link works up to 15 km. The TV-guidance system uses both regular and infrared cameras. The system can follow 8 targets simultaneously, and the guidance radar can follow both hovering helicopters as well as fighters exceeding speeds over Mach 2. The Crotale can also use surveillance data from other systems, data from optical surveillance and from the general aerial picture from the national air defence communications system.
In March 1988, Cuban intelligence operatives evaluated the system as deployed by the South African Defence Force during the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale. They claimed it was ineffective against attack profiles of the MiG-21 and MiG-23 operated by the Angolan Air Force, criticising the design as "shoddy", "outdated", and "useless".
- R440 Crotale
- The original Crotale SAM system, with both land and sea (Sea Crotale) systems. Over 330 systems and several thousand missiles were produced and exported to more than 15 countries.
- China developed the HQ-7 SAM system partly from reverse-engineering Crotale. An improved version, the HQ-7A/FM-90, is known to exist.
- Shahab Thaqeb
- In 2002 Iran revealed details concerning a domestically produced surface-to-air missile system, named Shahab Thaqeb. The system, mounted on a 4-wheel trailer, closely resemebled the Chinese HQ-7/FM-80/90 series of which Iran had already received. It was unclear whether these systems were actually manufactured in Iran, or whether some portion of the assembly had been conducted domestically.
The Ya Zahra air defense system was introduced in 2012.
- R460 SICA (Shahine)
- Thomson-CSF (now Thales) developed a specific version of the Crotale known as "Shahine" for Saudi Arabia. The system became operational in 1980. The main visible differences are mainly the carrier (an AMX 30 armoured carrier instead of the non protected classic carrier), and that it carries a six missile firing unit (instead of four). The purpose of the changes was to allow the Shahine firing and acquisition units to follow and protect the armoured units of the Saudi Armed Forces on the battlefield. The Shahine units were among the first vehicles to liberate Kuwait City in February 1991 - a picture taken of the scene was widely publicised by Newsweek magazine.
- Crotale NG (VT-1)
- An updated version, New Generation. Finland was the first operator of the system. The cost of the system is roughly 8 million euros (excluding the vehicle). Greece is another user, and paid 1 Billion French Francs in 1998 for 11 systems: 9 for the Hellenic Air Force and 2 for the Hellenic Navy. In 2002 euros, that would have amounted up to 12 million euros per unit.
- Crotale Mk.3 (system)
- In January 2008, France test-fired the new Crotale Mk.3 system at the CELM missile launch test center in Biscarrosse. The Crotale Mk.3 system's VT1 missile successfully intercepted a Banshee target drone at 970 metre altitude and 8 km range in 11 seconds on 15 January 2008. Later, on 31 January 2008, the system successfully intercepted another target drone at a 500 metre altitude and 15 km range in 35 seconds. 
There are several countries that operate the Crotale or Crotale NG missile.
- The Finnish Army operates Crotale NGs on Sisu XA-181 vehicles, designated ITO90M. 21 systems.
- naval Crotale and land-based Crotale NG (12 systems)
- Crotale NG, used by Hellenic Air Force (9 systems) and Hellenic Navy (2 naval systems).
- some Crotale launchers may use Chinese-made replicas.
- Crotale NG
- Republic of Korea
- K-SAM Pegasus (114 systems)
- Saudi Arabia
- Crotale NG
- United Arab Emirates
- Roland missile (Franco-German surface-to-air missile)
- LFK NG (the future surface-to-air missile of the German Army)
- Ya Zahra (Iranian domestically built upgraded version of Crotale)
- "Crotale NG". Army-Technology.
- "Marine Week 2011". MarineWeek.
- "Pegasus missile of LIG Nex1". eMilitarynews.
- Chun-Ma (Pegasus) (Korea, South), Defensive weapons
- "Chunma". Deagel.com.
- "Angolan/Cuban Signals Intelligence 1987-1988". http://cryptome.org/. 2002-07-31. Retrieved 2015-02-12.