The Crotale (rattlesnake) short-range air defense missile system. The origins of this air defense system lie in South African order. In 1964 South Africa ordered Thomson-Houston (later Thomson-CSF and now Thales) to develop a point defense system. Development was mostly funded by South Africa, and partially by the French government. The system was developed during the late 1960s. These systems were delivered to South Africa between 1971 and 1973. It was locally named the Cactus. Soon after the French air force ordered this system for airfield defense, naming the system Crotale. It entered service in 1972. By 1978 a total of 20 batteries were delivered.
The Crotale is one of the most successful SAM design ever built. This air defense system still evolves and remains in production for more than 40 years. A wide range of its variants have been built. It is in service with 15 countries.
The Crotale is a point defense system, designed to protect high value targets, such as airfields, military bases, ammunition depots, and so on. The original design aim of the Crotale was to engage supersonic low-flying aircraft.
The TELAR vehicle is based on a Thomson-Hotchkiss P4R 4×4 armored chassis. It carries 4 missiles and is fitted with engagement radar. It also has an optical aiming system. Armor of this vehicle provides protection against small arms fire and artillery shell splinters. The TELAR vehicle is operated by a crew of three. It is powered by a petrol or diesel engine, driving an alternator, which powers electrical motors driving the wheels. However mobility of this vehicle is rather limited. It was developed as a point defense system, rather than operate alongside land force maneuver elements. It takes about 5 minutes to launch missiles from travelling. There is also a towed variant, that is less mobile.