North Atlantic Ocean –
Exercise At-Sea Demo/Formidable Shield (ASD/FS) 2021, a live-fire integrated air and missile defense (IAMD) exercise conducted by Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO on behalf of U.S. Sixth Fleet, kicked off today, May 15, 2021 at the U.K. Ministry of Defence’s Hebrides Range in the vicinity of the Western Isles of Scotland.
The exercise exhibits allied interoperability in a live-fire joint IAMD environment, using NATO command and control reporting structures.
“Delivering integrated air and missile defence, and specifically ballistic missile defence, is one of STRIKFORNATO’s primary roles on behalf of the Alliance,” said Rear Adm. James Morley, Deputy Commander, STRIKFORNATO. “Exercise At-Sea Demo/Formidable Shield 21 is an important opportunity to further develop fighting capability and domain integration against a challenging set of realistic targets – a demonstration of our resolve to counter the threat.”
Ten nations will participate by sending ships, aircraft, and ground assets to two joint operating areas covering the North Atlantic. An embarked staff, Task Group IAMD, serves onboard the Spanish Álvaro de Bazán-class frigate ESPS Cristóbal Colón (F-105), which is the designated flagship. Participating nations include Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States. NATO Command Structure and NATO Force Structure headquarters will fulfill command and control roles in the exercise, incorporating such diverse shades of the Alliance as HQ Allied Air Command (AIRCOM), Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC) Uedem, and the newly formed NATO Space Centre.
Commander, Task Force (CTF) 64, Capt. Jonathan Lipps, will lead this year’s exercise as the Commander, Task Group (CTG) Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD).
“Fifteen ships from ten nations will track and engage subsonic, supersonic, and ballistic missile targets on and above the Hebrides and Andøya Space Defense Ranges,” Lipps said. “Demonstrating unprecedented scalability and integration while embarked on the Spanish Aegis Frigate Cristóbal Colón, STRIKFORNATO’s IAMD staff will also direct and authorize maritime Harpoon firing units and a United States Marine Corps High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) firing against a target at sea.”
Live engagements by Driven Ammunition Reduced Time of flight (DART) munitions,
Standard Missile-2, Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles (ESSM), Aster 15, and Aster 30 missiles will
be executed against various targets, including subsonic Banshee, Mirach, and Firejet targets and ground-launched supersonic drone (GQM-163A) targets. Additionally, ballistic missile defense tests with Standard Missile-3 launches will also be conducted.
Safety remains a top consideration amid the employment of advanced tactical systems and interceptors.
“A rigorous safety analysis was conducted for the area of operation where the exercise will take place. All results that were determined by multiple Allied nations concluded that the risk to surrounding territories will be negligible,” Lipps said. “There are risks inherent in any live-fire exercise, however, activities at Andøya Space Defense are strictly localized at the range and specifically pose no risk to countries adjoining Norway.”
This iteration of the At-Sea Demo/Formidable Shield series is fully joint and includes U.S. Army Forces Europe, U.S. Air Forces Europe (USAFE), and U.S. Marine Forces Europe participants, including tacticians from all branches, USAFE aircraft, and Norwegian ground forces. The event is also planned and supported by the Maritime Theater Missile Defense Forum (MTMD-F), a coalition of 12 nations with a focus on improving interoperability and force capabilities in maritime missile defense.
Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO, based in Oeiras, Portugal, is a rapidly deployable, maritime headquarters that provides scalable command and control across the full spectrum of warfare areas.
U.S. Sixth Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with joint, allied and interagency partners, to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.