Aerial Warfare

France Buys Mistral 3 Short Range Air Defense (SHORAD) from MBDA

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France Buys Mistral 3 Short Range Air Defense (SHORAD) from MBDA

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France Buys Mistral 3 Short Range Air Defense (SHORAD) from MBDA
France Buys Mistral 3 Short Range Air Defense (SHORAD) from MBDA

The French defence procurement agency (Direction générale de l’armement, DGA) announced it has signed a contract with the European defence company MBDA for Mistral 3 (Missile Transportable Anti-aérien Léger) short range air defense (SHORAD) system. The order for 329 Mistral 3 air defence missiles was placed as part of the multinational letter of intent signed by France, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, and Hungary in June 2023. The Mistral 3 is a French infrared homing short range air defense system manufactured by MBDA France (formerly by Matra Defence and then Matra BAe Dynamics).

Mistral is a short-range air defence (SHORAD) missile system that can be used from vehicles, surface ships, and helicopters, as well as in a portable configuration. When used in the MANPADS role the “Mistral” missile is transported in a transport and launch container (MPC) together with “friend or foe” interrogator, power source and tripod with its sighting devices. They are then to be operated by a pair of crew as commander and the shooter. There are also launch units that allow the missile to be fired from armoured vehicles, ships or helicopters (such as the Aérospatiale Gazelle, Denel Rooivalk, or Eurocopter Tiger).

Mistral 3 Short Range Air Defense (SHORAD). (Photo by MBDA)
Mistral 3 Short Range Air Defense (SHORAD). (Photo by MBDA)

To defeat flares ejected from the rear of a targeted aircraft, proportional navigation using a gyro as a reference is adopted for Mistral, instead of the pursuit method in earlier IR-guided MANPADS. To further enhance the ECCM capability, the seeker of Mistral has a very narrow field of view to reject decoys and interference, the seeker can tilt in the range of +/? 38 degrees. On the launcher, the missile runs up the gyro in 2 seconds, and total reaction time is 5 seconds. The all-aspect two-color (2–4 and 3–5 µm) cooled IR-seeker of Mistral is developed by SAT (Societe Anonyme de Telecommunications), and the missile adopts both laser proximity and impact fuzes.

Mistral 3, the latest in the Mistral series of missiles, is currently in service with the French armed forces. Mistral 3 features an infrared imaging seeker and possesses advanced image processing capabilities. The missile possesses the capability to effectively target and engage objects with minimal heat signatures, including unmanned aerial vehicles, turbojet-powered missiles and fast attack craft at distances up to 7.5km. Furthermore, it provides exceptional resilience against countermeasures. In November 2019, Mistral 3 missile demonstrated its increasing capabilities by intercepting a moving target at more than 7km range.

MBDA Mistral Simbad-RC against fast boats (FIAC)
Mistral 3 Short Range Air Defense (SHORAD). (Photo by MBDA)

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