The Crotale NG is a modernized version Crotale EDIR (Ecartométrie Différentielle InfraRouge, InfraRed Differential Ecartometry”) all-weather short range air defence (SHORAD) missile system developed by Thales Air Defense (formerly Thomson-CSF Airsys) based at Bagneux in France. This “all in one” missile launcher was designed to protect and reassure Finland against the rumblings of the neighbouring Soviet Union. Throughout the decades, Thales has continually upgraded the Crotale with new features including improved connectivity and electronics. Following Finland and France it quickly received a vote of confidence when other countries including Greece, Oman, and South Korea adopted the system. Faced with increasing and multifaceted threats, Crotale NG will continue to contribute to a stronger and more secure Europe.
This version used the new VT-1 missile with Mach 3.5 speed, load factor to 35G, 11 km range, 13 kg warhead (8 m 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. An early ’90s proposal to fit the system (in its eight-round form) to a Leclerc tank chassis in order to provide a battlefield air defence vehicle for protecting armored formations on the move was not realised due to post-Cold War cutbacks. In its most recent upgrade, the Crotale NG (New Generation), features a state of the art thermal camera that provides the Finnish Defence Forces with a dependable real-time image in daylight or at night. The system is effective helicopters, drones, and rockets, and it can protect fixed or moving civil or military sites. The Crotale NG can fire 13-kilogram warheads at Mach 3.5 speed at ranges of at least 11 kilometres.
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, Ku-band TWT (travelling wave tube) single pulse doppler tracking radar, Thermal camera, Daylight CCD camera and Infrared (IR) localiser. 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.
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 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.