On May 30, 2018, after weeks of preparation and close collaboration with the DGA and the MBDA company, the [French Navy] air-defense frigate “Chevalier Paul” took just a few seconds to fire an Aster 30 anti-aircraft missile with its Principal Anti-Air Missile System (PAAMS) against a stand-alone aerial target. The ship thus confirmed its ability to react rapidly to missile threats in the littoral environment.
As part of this exercise called "Alligator", which closely resembles the missions the ship regularly performs on operations, the Chevalier Paul's mission was to escort and protect a high-value surface combatant (aircraft carrier or Mistral-class LHD) deployed to a zone where missiles might be fired from coastal batteries. This is a new opportunity to exploit the air defense capabilities as part of a naval task force, in operational conditions close to reality.
The threat, simulated by a self-propelled target drone, was launched and was piloted from the DGA test center on Levant Island off Toulon. The target is representative, in terms of speed and kinematics, to the performance of missiles that are potentially launched against surface ships during combat operations.
The result lived up to expectations: the target was detected, classified as "hostile," engaged and destroyed as soon as possible. Mission accomplished!
The effectiveness of the weapons systems of combat vessels is regularly confirmed by missile or artillery fire in the context of realistic exercises and consistent with the threats they face on mission.
The key is not just to fire a missile and hit a target, but also to be able to quickly detect and identify targets.