The Crotale EDIR (Ecartométrie Différentielle InfraRouge, “InfraRed Differential Ecartometry”) is an all-weather short-range anti-air missile, which can be used to intercept low-flight anti-ship missiles and aircraft. It has been developed by Thomson CSF Matra and exists in two versions, a mobile land-based version and a ship-launched one.
Originally the Crotale R440 system was developed by Rockwell International and Thomson-Houston (and Mistral) in France for South Africa, where it got the name Cactus. However, the achievements of the system impressed the French Armed Forces, who purchased the system both for the air force and for the navy.
The firing system includes the main sensors of the ship, the firing system of the turret, and a central coordination system. The turret holds eight missiles ready for launch in watertight containers. The magazine behind the turret holds 18 missiles.
The French army first utilised a 4×4 wheeled vehicle, armed with four launchers. In order to ensure higher mobility, it was decided to mount the system on the chassis of the French AMX-30 main battle tank. At the same time, the number of launchers were increased to six. In Finnish Army service, the Crotale NG system has been mounted on Sisu Pasi vehicles. Here the number of launchers is eight.
The Crotale system has also been installed on various military ships. For instance the French Navy La Fayette class frigates have a Crotale 8-tubed launcher near the helicopter flight deck.
A modernized version, the Crotale NG (New Generation), entered production in 1990. This version used the new VT-1 missile with Mach 3.5 speed, load factor to 35G, 11 km range, 13 kg warhead (8m 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.