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Crotale NG Short Range Air Defence System, France




Key Data


Crotale New Generation short range air defence missile system

The Crotale New Generation short range air defence (SHORAD) missile system.


Crotale NG (Next Generation) is an all-weather short-range air defence system developed by Thales Air Defense (formerly Thomson-CSF Airsys) based at Bagneux in France.

The missions of the system are in front-line armoured brigade defence, permanent or semi-permanent site defence and area defence against air threats, such as fixed-wing aircraft, attack helicopters, cruise missiles, tactical missiles and saturation attacks with stand-off weapons released from aircraft and helicopters.

The Crotale NG system provides air situation and threat assessment, extended detection range, identification friend or foe (IFF), multi-target detection plus automated acquisition, tracking and engagement and all weather operation.

"Crotale NG is an all-weather short-range air defence missile system."

Crotale NG entered production in 1990 and is in service with the Finnish Army (20 systems), and the French Air Force (12 shelter-mounted systems) and Navy.

Thales signed a contract with Greece in June 1999 for 11 Crotale NG systems, nine for the air force and two for the navy. The system has also been sold to Saudi Arabia and Oman.

In February 2000, Thales and Samsung were jointly awarded the contract for the Republic of Korea Pegasus (Chun Ma) K-SAM (Korean Surface-to-Air Missile) programme. The contract called for the production of 48 Crotale NG surveillance and fire control systems. Samsung Thales was awarded a follow-on contract in December 2003.

Thales is developing the Crotale mk3 system. With the new Shikra 3D multibeam surveillance radar (derived from the Thales Netherlands SMART-S mk2 search radar), Crotale mk3 forms Thales's multishield system designed to protect sensitive sites and theatres of operation. Crotale mk3 began flight testing in January 2008.

A data exchange capability provides integration of the Crotale NG into a global air defence scheme. A platoon of four Crotale NG units can be operated in coordinated mode using the automated computer-to-computer data exchange. According to the threat assessment and the relative positions of the four units, the target is engaged by the unit in the best position.

Crotale mk3 long range air defence missile system

Thales is developing the Crotale mk3, a new long-range variant of the Crotale NG. The Crotale mk3 has a maximum effective range of 16,000m and altitude of 9,000m. With the new Shikra 3D multibeam surveillance radar (derived from the Thales Netherlands SMART-S Mk2 search radar), Crotale mk3 forms Thales's Multishield system designed to protect sensitive sites and theatres of operation.

The Crotale mk3 was first test fired in February 2007 at the DGA Centre d'Essais des Landes (CELM) missile launch range at Biscarrosse in South West France. The mk3 intercepted and destroyed the target at a range of more than 14,000m.

In January 2008, the mk3 missile system successfully intercepted and destroyed a Banshee target drone at altitude 970m and range 8,000m in an 11 seconds engagement. In a second test firing Crotale mk3 destroyed the target flying at an altitude of 500m and range of 15,000m.

Crotale NG VT1 missile

The Crotale NG VT1 missile features a high level of manoeuvrability with load factors up to 35g up to 8km with the airframe capable of withstanding 50g. Speed is Mach 3.5, using a solid propellant rocket motor. The VT1 has an effective range of about 11km and ceiling of over 6,000m. In March 2001, Thales Air Defence (formerly Shorts Missile Systems) were awarded a contract for the manufacture of the VT1 missile.

The Command to Line-Of-Sight (CLOS) guidance uses radar and electro-optical sensors. The missile is armed with a focused blast and fragmentation warhead, initiated by an RF proximity fuse. The warhead provides a lethal blast radius of 8m. Typical interception time from firing to airborne target destruction at a distance of 8km is 10.3s.

Fire control and surveillance

The Crotale NG is equipped with a multi-sensor suite, including passive electro-optics and radar with built-in Electronic Counter Countermeasures (ECCM) to engage airborne targets under adverse conditions of dense electronic warfare and hostile battlefield environments of nuclear, biological and chemical warfare (NBC) and smoke and dust screens. The elements of the sensor suite are:

S-band pulse doppler surveillance radar – with sectored surveillance, search-on-the-move and built-in IFF antenna. The ECCM features are low side lobes, frequency agility, pulse compression, CFAR (Constant False Alarm Rate) and strobe on jam. The range is 20km with altitude coverage from 0m to 5,000m.

"The Crotale NG system provides air situation and threat assessment."

Ku-band TWT (travelling wave tube) single pulse doppler tracking radar – with a beam width of 1.20°. The ECCM features are low side lobes, frequency agility, pulse compression, CFAR, and jammer tracking. The range is up to 30km.

Thermal camera – with dual field of view and electronic magnification providing 8.1 or 2.7° in azimuth and 5.4 or 1.8° in elevation. The range is up to 19km.

Daylight CCD camera – with field of view 2.4° in azimuth and 1.8° in elevation. The range is up to 15km.

Infrared (IR) localiser – mounted below the CCD camera for missile gathering.

All functions from target detection to target tracking are automated to achieve reduced reaction times. The reaction time is typically six seconds between first detection and launch of the missile. Once the missile is fired, the operational software selects the best missile tracking sensor according to data being supplied from all sensors. The operator has the option of overriding the sensor automatically selected by the operational software.

Crotale New Generation multimission short range air defence missile system The Crotale New Generation multimission short range air defence missile system.
NG's VT-1 Hypervelocity missile firing from a Crotale defence system Crotale NG's VT-1 Hypervelocity missile has successfully passed extensive firing tests.
Towed version of the Crotale NG air defence missile system The towed version of the Crotale NG air defence missile system.
Interior operator combat console of the Crotale NG missile system The Crotale NG air defence missile system single operator combat console.
Self propelled version of the Crotale NG defence system The Crotale NG self propelled version operational in the Finnish Army.
The Crotale NG firing a VT-1 Hypervelocity missile. The Crotale NG firing a VT-1 Hypervelocity missile.