The first confirmed kill by Crotale-NG air defense systems donated by France to Ukraine has been captured in a video shared by the Ukrainian military. In the clip, filmed inside one of the battery’s vehicles, the system’s optical sensor is seen tracking a Russian cruise missile headed toward Ukraine.
While the initial shot at the missile seems to miss, the second shot hits its target and explodes spectacularly, prompting the crew on board to cheer loudly. The transfer of two Crotale-NG batteries was confirmed by French defense minister Sébastien Lecornu in November 2022, which was then highlighted by President Emmanuel Macron during a speech on the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle in December.
The Crotale was developed during the Cold War to protect a specific area against low-flying aircraft, such as the surface-skimming cruise missiles launched by Russia at Ukraine.
Although it is not effective against high-altitude aircraft, the Crotale remains a threat to helicopters, low-to-medium altitude drones, and warplanes using unguided bombs or rockets as their primary ground attack weapon.
The successful use of the Crotale-NG system is a significant development for the Ukrainian military, which has been engaged in an ongoing conflict with Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine since 2014. The conflict has claimed thousands of lives and has seen the use of various types of weaponry, including missiles, artillery, and drones.
Regardless of the debate surrounding military aid to Ukraine, the successful use of the Crotale-NG system demonstrates the effectiveness of Western-made air defense systems and could encourage other countries to provide similar aid to Ukraine in the future.