Military Factory logo

Crotale SAM

France (1978)

Detailing the development and operational history of the Crotale SAM Surface-to-Air Missile Defense System.

 Entry last updated on 11/1/2017; Authored by Staff Writer; Content ©

  Crotale SAM  
Picture of Crotale SAM Surface-to-Air Missile Defense System

The French Crotale air defense system program produced some 6,000 missiles since inception in 1978.

The Crotale missile defence system can be fitted on a variety of chassis types and launched against targets overland or overwater. The French Air Force, Finnish Army and French Navy are just some of the users of this multi-dimensional system which began its design phase in 1967 and entered production in 1978. Four Crotale missile defense systems can be networked to cooperate in unison, providing an effective "Friend-Or-Foe" net against inbound aerial threats including cruise missiles. The Crotale missile has proven highly maneuverable for its role and can reach speeds in excess of Mach 3.5 with an engagement range out to 11 kilometers (6.8 miles).

Fire control utilizes multiple sensors with passive optics and radar working alongside electronic countermeasure systems. The target detection and acquisition systems are completely automated to achieve the fastest response time by the crew. The highly adaptable system can be ported onto a variety of chassis requirements some of which have been seen on Multiple-Launch Rocket Systems (MLRSs), 6-wheeled Armored Fighting Vehicles (AFVs) and 4-wheeled armored cars.

The Crotale "NG" ("Next Generation") variant became an upgraded production mark when it was introduced with Finland. Other marks have included the HQ-7 Chinese reverse-engineered model then copied by the Iranians. Saudi Arabia operates the SICA "Shahine" R460 series. The Crotale Mk.III is the latest in the Crotale line and began testing around 2008 - this version is capable of engaging smaller drone aircraft with accuracy.
Crotale SAM Specifications
National Flag Graphic
Year: 1978
Type: Surface-to-Air Missile Defense System
Manufacturer(s): Thales Air Defence, Bagneux, France
Production: 500
Supported Mission Types
Troop Transport
Infantry Support
High Mobility
Tank Destroyer
Special Forces
Towed Artillery
Self-Propelled Artillery
Rocket Artillery
Airspace Denial
Special Purpose
Crew, Dimensions and Operating Weight
Operating Crew: 3
Operating Weight: 4 ft (4,000 kg; 8,818 lb)

Installed Power
Not Available. The turret system is adaptable to a variety of chassis types.

Base Performance
Maximum Road Range: 12 mi (20 km)

Armament and Ammunition
4 x Missile tube launchers

8 x VT1/Mk.III anti-aircraft missiles

Optional Systems
Nuclear-Biological-Chemical (NBC) Protection: Yes.
Nightvision (NV) Equipment: Yes.

Nuclear danger symbol
Biological hazard symbol
Chemical danger symbol
Nightvision green screen symbol

Operators List
Bahrain; Egypt; Finland; France; Greece; Iran; Oman; Pakistan; Portugal; South Korea; Saudi Arabia; South Africa; United Arab Emirates

Model Variants
• Crotale R440 - Base Variant
• Crotale NG - Next Generation upgraded version
• Crotale Mk.III - Modernized Crotale launcher system
• "Sea Crotale" - Navalized variant
• HQ-7 - Chinese reverse-engineered copy
• Shaheb Thaqeb - Iranian copy of the Chinese HQ-7 series.
• SICA R460 - Saudi Arabian version by Thomson-CSF
• Chun Ma (Pegasus) K-SAM - Joint Export Venture for South Korean Army.