NAPLES, Italy --- Ships from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States participated in a live-fire integrated air and missile defense (IAMD) scenario, defending against a ballistic missile target as well as three anti-ship cruise missiles Oct. 15 as part of exercise Formidable Shield 2017 (FS17).
Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO) is conducting Formidable Shield on behalf of the U.S. 6th Fleet. The U.S. Missile Defense Agency is also a major participant in this exercise.
During the collective self-defense scenario, the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) successfully detected, tracked and intercepted a medium-range ballistic missile target with a Standard Missile-3 Block IB guided missile. Simultaneously, the Spanish frigate SPS Alvaro de Bazan (F101) fired an Evolved SeaSparrow Missile (ESSM) against an incoming anti-ship cruise missile while the Netherlands frigate HNLMS Tromp (F803) fired ESSMs against a pair of incoming anti-ship cruise missiles.
This was the first time NATO's smart defense concept was demonstrated with ships serving as air defense units protecting naval ballistic missile defense units.
Following that event, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency and U.S. Navy sailors aboard USS McFaul (DDG 74) successfully test fired a Standard Missile-6 (SM-6). That flight test, designated Standard Missile Controlled Test Vehicle (SM CTV)-03, demonstrated the successful performance of an SM-6 launched from an Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense capable DDG and was conducted as part of the system's flight certification process. The SM-6 test was not part of the Formidable Shield exercise, but was conducted in coordination with that event to leverage the available range assets.
"I am extremely proud of the Task Group members and their performance during these complex, live-fire engagements," said Capt. Shanti Sethi, commander, Task Group IAMD for Formidable Shield, and Commander, U.S. 6th Fleet's Task Force 64. "The exercise scenarios are designed to test our limits and give us a unique opportunity to truly practice how we would fight together as an alliance. We are coordinating and sharing information in real time the way we would in a real IAMD operation."
Formidable Shield is designed to improve allied interoperability in an IAMD environment, using NATO command-and-control reporting structures and data-link architecture. FS17 is the inaugural iteration of this exercise.
"I couldn't be more proud of the government and industry team from across the NATO alliance who planned and executed these missions," said U.S. Missile Defense Agency Director Lt. Gen. Sam Greaves. "Both the joint exercise and the Navy test launch truly demonstrate the capabilities the U.S. and our allies are developing to defeat complex, cruise and ballistic missile threats."
More than 14 ships, 10 aircraft, and approximately 3,300 personnel from Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, the U.K., and the U.S., are participating in FS17 on the U.K. Ministry of Defense's Hebrides Range located on the Western Isles of Scotland.
"Formidable Shield is, as the name already implies, a formidable setup for both testing architectural constructs to TDL (tactical data link) and for the conduct of operational decision making of the complex environment of Integrated Air and Missile Defense," said Cmdr. Peter Jansberg, Danish Navy, CTG IAMD Senior Operations Officer.
"As such, Formidable Shield demonstrates the necessity of constantly maintaining and sustaining a Joint Operational Air picture, so all nations have the ability to act and operate from the same hymn sheet. This making the decision line as short as possible, and the room for error minimal."
U.S. ships participating in Formidable Shield include the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers Donald Cook, USS Mitscher (DDG 57), USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81), and the Louis and Clark-class dry cargo ship USNS Medger Evers (T-AKE 13).
Formidable Shield 2017 began Sept. 24, and is scheduled to conclude Oct. 18, 2017. This exercise is planned to be a recurring, biennial event, and is designed to assure allies, deter adversaries, and demonstrate our commitment to collective defense of the NATO alliance. Formidable Shield and exercise Joint Warrior 17-2, a U.K.-led, multinational exercise in a maritime training environment for allies to improve interoperability and prepare forces for combined operations, are occurring concurrently.
STRIKFORNATO is a rapidly deployable headquarters that provides scalable command and control across the full spectrum of the alliance's fundamental security tasks. As part of that mission, STRIKFORNATO is responsible for integrating U.S. naval and amphibious forces into NATO operations.
U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners, to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.