French President Emmanuel Macron has promised to provide this system to Ukraine in the coming weeks following the 10 October 2022 missile strikes on Ukraine. Saying that the proposed system would “protect the country (Ukraine) from drone and missile attacks.” President Macron hadn’t stated which system was to be supplied however Reuters has confirmed. The number of systems is unknown. France’s use of its arms stockpile to supply Ukraine has also drawn attention to the country’s own defense needs. French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecorneau said the CROTALE batteries destined for Ukraine will be replaced by the more advanced Mamba air defense system. According to the minister, France has 12 such batteries.
The Crotale (English: “Rattlesnake”) is a French, all-weather, short-range surface-to-air missile system developed to intercept airborne ranged weapons and aircraft, from cruise or anti-ship missiles to helicopters, UAVs or low-flying high-performance fighter aircraft. It was developed by Thomson CSF Matra (now Thales Group) and consists of a mobile land-based variant as well as various naval ones. Originally the Crotale R440 system was developed by Rockwell International and Thomson-Houston (and Mistral) in France for South Africa, where it was named Cactus. The French army first utilised a 4×4 wheeled vehicle, armed with four launchers. The French Navy La Fayette-class frigates have a Crotale 8-tubed launcher near the helicopter flight deck.
The Crotale missile system consists of two components; a vehicle for transport, equipped with 2-8 launchers; a tracking radar 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 missile is propelled by a solid-propellant rocket motor and can accelerate to a maximum speed of Mach 2.3 in two seconds. The missile is sent guidance commands by the base unit directing keeping it on the line of sight until its infrared proximity fuze senses that it is near its target and explodes. The surveillance radar and fire direction radar have 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 Mach 2. A standard missile is 3 m long and weights 84.5 kg. It has a solid fuel rocket motor. It gives the missile a maximum speed of Mach 2.3 (750 m/s) and a range of 12 km. It can engage helicopters, aircraft, cruise missiles, air-to-ground missiles and anti-radiation missiles. Minimum range of fire is about 500-700 m. It can reach targets at an altitude of 5.5 km. The missile has a 15 kg High-Explosive Fragmentation (HE-FRAG) warhead with contact and proximity fuses. A single missile has a hit probability of 80%. If two missiles are launched at the same target, hit probability is 96%.