Mistral (missile)

The Missile Transportable Anti-aérien Léger (English: Transportable lightweight anti-air missile), commonly called Mistral, is a French infrared homing short range air defense system manufactured by MBDA France (formerly by Matra Defence and then Matra BAe Dynamics). Based on the French SATCP (Sol-Air à Très Courte Portée), the portable missile later to become the Mistral began development in 1974. It was initially deployed in 1988 for the first version (S1), 1997 for the second version (M2), and 2019 for the third version (M3).

54RA-IMG 9142.jpg
Elements of France's 54th Artillery regiment (54RA) parading during the celebrations of the 14th of July in Toulon
Place of originFrance
Service history
In service1988–present
Used bySee Operators
WarsSecond Congo War
2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine
Production history
DesignerMatra Defence (now merged into MBDA)
ManufacturerMBDA France
Mass19.7 kg [1]
Length1.86 m
Diameter90 mm

Effective firing range
  • up to 6 km
  • 7+ km (Mistral-3)[2]
WarheadHigh Explosive with high density tungsten balls
Warhead weight2.95 kg
Laser proximity or impact triggered

EngineSolid Rocket Motor, 2-stage
Maximum speed 930 m/s, approx. Mach 2.71 (high supersonic)[3]
Infrared homing
Mistral Coordination Post (MCP) with Oerlikon Contraves SHORAR.


Mistral missile on display

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). 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.

The MCP (Mistral Coordination Post) was first shown at the 1991 Paris Air Show fitted with SHORAR (Short-range Anti-aircraft Defence Radar) from Oerlikon Contraves. The MCP is designed to be used with a portable Mistral system, ATLAS, ALBI or MPCV systems and also used as part of MBDA Mistral missile Ground Based Air Defence (GBAD) systems for air defense of military units and important facilities.

The MCP provides target designation and fire control for eleven Mistral firing unit, ALBI, ATLAS or MPCV air defence systems. The MCP is mounted on a truck chassis or any other off-road chassis. The newer version of MCP are called the IMCP or Improved Missile Control Post.[4]

A close-in weapon system based on Mistral is a six-missile version called Sadral, with a stabilized rapid-reload launcher that is fully automated. A CSEE developed fire control director is integrated to the launcher, consisted of TV camera and FLIR. Image produced by both directors appear on the screen in the operator console below deck, and the missiles are locked onto the target before being launched. A fully loaded Sadral launcher weighs 1080 kg, and the operator console weighs 280 kg. A two-missile unit installed on ships is called Simbad, and a newly launched four-missile version is called Tetral. An evolution of the Simbad is now proposed: Simbad RC. Both Tetral and Simbad RC are remote controlled from the ship's deck while the original Simbad is manually operated with a simple optical sight.[5]


The Mistral entered production in 1989 and is now deployed in various forms by 37 armed forces of 25 countries including Austria, the Brazilian Marine Corps, Chile, Colombia, Cyprus, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Hungary, Indonesia, Morocco, New Zealand, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, Singapore, Spain, and Venezuela. Norway donated their complete stock of Mistral missiles in 2022 to Ukraine.[6]

Land systemEdit

  • MANPADS: Basic Mistral missile used with a man-portable launch unit, manually operated.
  • ALAMO: Mistral missile mount with single missile, used on light vehicles, manually operated.
  • ALBI: Mounting system with 2 Mistral missiles. It is used on wheeled, or lightly armored vehicles, manually operated.
  • ATLAS: Improved ground or vehicle based mount with 2 Mistral missiles, manually operated.
  • ATLAS RC: Further development of ATLAS system, remotely operated.
  • ASPIC: Mounting for light vehicle with 4 Mistral missiles, remotely operated.
  • MPCV: Turret for light vehicle with 4 Mistral missiles and single cannon or heavy machinegun, automatic fire control with EO system.
  • PAMELA: Mistral missile mount with single missile, used on VLRA or TRM 2000 trucks, manually operated.
  • SANTAL: Turret for armored vehicles with 6 Mistral missiles, automatic fire control with search radar.

Naval systemEdit

  • SIMBAD: Mistral missile mount system with 2 missiles, manually operated.
  • SIMBAD RC: Development of regular SIMBAD system, remotely operated.
  • TETRAL: Mounting system with 4 Mistral missiles, automatic fire control with FCR or EO system.
  • SADRAL: Mount with 6 Mistral missiles, automatic fire control with FCR or EO system.
  • SIGMA: Combination of 25 or 30mm autocannon and 3 Mistral missiles, automatic fire control with FCR or EO system.
  • SAKO M85 Mistral: Naval turret with 6 Mistral missiles based on Finland SAKO 23 M85, remotely operated.

Airborne systemEdit

  • ATAM: Helicopter version used as an air-to-air weapon with 2 missiles on each module.

Submarine air defence systemEdit

Service historyEdit

Mistral missiles used by the Rwandan forces in the Second Congo War shot down a Zimbabwean Air Force BAE Hawk fighter on 23 March 1999.[8]

Two automated SADRAL launchers (re-cycled from the retiring Georges Leygues-class frigates) and each equipped with six Mistral Mk 3 surface-to-air missiles are to be fitted to three La Fayette-class frigates of the French Navy in the 2021–2023 period. The system replaced the previous Crotale SAM system in order to provide a modernized defence against sea-skimming targets.[9][10] The Mistral Mk 3 carries an infrared imaging seeker and possesses advanced image processing capabilities. This allows it to engage low thermal signature targets such as: UAVs, turbojet-powered missiles and fast craft at long range, while reportedly offering resistance to countermeasures.[11] The system is also carried on the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle,[12] the Mistral-class amphibious assault ships[13] and is planned for installation on the French Navy's Jacques Chevallier-class support ships.[14]

Two Sadral turrets for Mistral were also installed on the raised deck on each side of the helicopter hangar of the former Cassard-class frigates.[15] Space for the SADRAL/Mistral system is also provided for on the French Horizon-class frigates but, as of 2021, has not been installed on those vessels.

Norway sent 100 Mistral systems to Ukraine[16] during the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.


Map with Mistral operators in blue
Mistral missile launch during a joint French-Romanian military exercise. (Capu Midia firing range).
Indonesian army air defense battalion Mistral ATLAS unit during exercise.
Hungarian Army MCP with SHORAR on display.

Current operatorsEdit

Future operatorsEdit

Former operatorsEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "MISTRAL MANPADS | Ground Based Air Defence".
  2. ^ "MBDA'S MISTRAL 3 MISSILE SCORES A DOUBLE SUCCESS". mbda-systems.com. 15 November 2019.
  3. ^ "2019 Mistral MANPADS datasheet" (PDF). MBDA. Archived from the original on 2021-11-08. Retrieved 11 April 2022.
  4. ^ "MCP / IMCP | Ground Based Air Defence". MBDA. Retrieved 2021-09-21.
  5. ^ "SIMBAD-RC | Maritime Superiority, MISTRAL SOLUTION". Archived from the original on 2019-03-06. Retrieved 2019-03-04.
  6. ^ "Norway sends air defence systems to Ukraine". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2022-04-20.
  7. ^ Janes International Defence Review Vol 45 France revives hard-kill submarine defences, page XIV
  8. ^ Cooper, Tom. "Zaire/DR.Congo 1980-2001". ACIG.org. Archived from the original on 25 January 2013. Retrieved 22 January 2013.
  9. ^ "French Navy Lafayette Class Frigates Crotale SAM Systems May be Replaced with SADRAL".
  10. ^ "Sadral".
  11. ^ "MBDA's Mistral 3 missile scores a double success | Press Release".
  12. ^ "Charles de Gaulle Nuclear-Powered Aircraft Carrier".
  13. ^ "Mistral Class – Amphibious Assault Ships".
  14. ^ "Les bâtiments ravitailleurs de forces seront équipés de Simbad-RC". 7 January 2022.
  15. ^ "Cassard Class - Naval Technology".
  16. ^ "Norway sends air defense systems to Ukraine". The News & Observer. Associated Press. Retrieved 20 April 2022.
  17. ^ "Botswana acquired 300 million euros of French weaponry in 2016". Defence Web. 3 August 2017. Archived from the original on 3 August 2017. Retrieved 3 August 2017.
  18. ^ "Cyprus signs €240 mln French missiles contract". FinancialMirror. Retrieved 13 April 2022.
  19. ^ Kaitsevägi, Eesti. "Õhutõrjepataljon - Kaitsevägi". www.mil.ee. Archived from the original on 2014-10-15. Retrieved 2014-11-24.
  20. ^ https://mags.shephardmedia.com/HB-samples-2018/AAD5-webmag.pdf[bare URL PDF]
  21. ^ "French air defense systems are already in Georgia". 1TV. Retrieved 13 April 2022.
  22. ^ "MBDA to upgrade Mistral air defense missile systems of Hungary with Matis optronic aiming sight 2208". armyrecognition. Retrieved 13 April 2022.
  24. ^ Saballa, Joe. "Philippine Navy Receives Mistral 3 Surface-to-Air Missiles". TheDefensePost. Retrieved 13 April 2022.
  26. ^ "Mistral Anti-Aircraft Missile". Retrieved 13 April 2022.
  27. ^ Merchet, Jean-Dominique. "La France a formé des soldats ukrainiens juste avant l'invasion russe". L'Opinion. Retrieved 13 April 2022.
  28. ^ "Norway provides an air defense system to Ukraine". Regjeringen.no. 20 April 2022. Retrieved 20 April 2022.
  29. ^ Fiorenza, Nicholas (16 May 2017). "Belgium phases out Mistral". IHS Jane's 360. Brussels. Archived from the original on 16 May 2017. Retrieved 16 May 2017.

External linksEdit