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Mistral

The Mistral, a fire and forget missile, equipped with a high technology infrared homing head, is fully autonomous after firing. Lightweight (20 kg), it reaches a speed of more than 800m/second (Mach 2.5) and its guidance accuracy, its manoeuvrability and its laser proximity or impact fuse triggered 3 kg warhead, ensure exceptional effectiveness against aircraft, helicopters and anti-ship missiles. More than 600 MISTRAL missiles have been fired under operational conditions with a success rate over 92%. Some 15,000 missiles have been ordered by eight European countries, eight in Asia-Pacific, four in South America and three in the Middle-East.

The portable Mistral antiaircraft missile system carries out tasks similar to those of the Stinger and Redeye systems. But it is more sophisticated. According to the developers the system is capable of hitting airplanes at ranges to 6 km and altitudes to 3,000 m flying at speeds to 440 m/sec.

The system consists of a missile in a transporting and launching canister, an optical sighting device, an IFF system and an infrared sight used to launch missiles at night. All of its equipment is divided into two packages weighing 20 kg each, meaning that it can be transported by two persons. A tripod and a seat for the operator make launching of missiles more convenient than with shoulder-launched antiaircraft missiles. In addition it takes less time to sight the weapon and its accuracy is greater, which is important when it is necessary to ensure lock-on at ranges of 8-9 km.

The missile's infrared homing head has an octagonal pyramidal lens, which in comparison with a conventional spherical lens reduces drag and thus produces higher missile velocity and improves maneuverability, especially in the final phase of guidance. The Mistral missile is equipped with a matrix multiple-unit receiver that picks up infrared radiation in the 3-5 micron range, which significantly raises the sensitivity of the homing head and its resistance to interference. High sensitivity widens the possibilities for use against targets with a reduced infrared radiation intensity, both in chase mode and on collision courses. It is noted in the foreign press that use of a matrix receiver together with a digital signal processing system provides sufficiently reliable protection against infrared traps, the sun and brightly lit clouds.

The weight of the warhead, which contains tungsten balls as its destructive elements, is 3 kg significantly more than the weight of the warheads of the Redeye and Stinger antiaircraft missiles. It is equipped with proximity and laser remote fuzes. In the opinion of the developers, use of a laser fuze makes it possible to exclude premature detonation of the warhead due to noise from various objects, trees and so on.

The missile's propulsion unit consists of a booster and a sustainer. The booster imparts a velocity of 40 m/sec to the missile. After the missile clears the launch canister the booster is jettisoned, and about 15 m from the operator the sustainer ignites, accelerating the missile to its maximum velocity of 800 m/sec. The missile's high speed reduces the time of its flight to the target. A missile would need not more than 6 sec to reach a helicopter hovering 4 km away.



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