NORTH ATLANTIC OCEAN –
The sea off the Scottish coast is rough on May 21, 2021. As part of the international force deployed for At-Sea Demo/Formidable Shield, the French anti-air warfare destroyer (AAWD) Forbin is assigned a simulated mission to protect the priority maritime facilities of an Allied country. In this scenario, the crew is at battle stations and the surface-to-air missile defence system, PAAMS, is ready to fire.
"MFR detection... Hostile target... Missile ready... Aster fired... Interception... Killed.” In just a few seconds, the Forbin's crew has just detected and intercepted a supersonic target, flying at more than 3,000 kilometres per hour, a few metres above the surface. For a French AAW, this is the first firing of an Aster 30 combat missile, with its military payload.
Faced with such a supersonic target and with an entire crew at the battle station, the weapon system is set to its full automation capacities to strike. However, the firing is very complex as its successful outcome depends on each sailor on board, from the commander who approves the firing to the mechanics who ensures that the vital refrigeration system is working properly. This is why, for several days, the Forbin's crew has been carrying out a series of simulated Aster 30 firings, checking the different firing conditions and, in particular, all the technical problems that could arise.
After a nominal firing sequence perfectly performed by the crew, this success is the reward for the collective investment and the remarkable work of the French AAWD Forbin's crew and more generally of all the French Navy's services mobilised on this occasion. This successful sequence illustrates the French AAWD's ability to adapt to the evolution of threats and to integrate high-value-added technical means.
This complex firing was conducted in the framework of At-Sea Demo/Formidable Shield 21, which intends to test the weapon systems of ten Allied navies and their interoperability against the latest and most advanced threats. As a permanent member of the Maritime Theater Missile Defense (MTMD-F) Forum, under the leadership of the French Navy's Chief of Staff and with the constant support of the Direction Générale pour l'Armement, France confirms the state-of-the-art capabilities and excellence of its maritime assets in the field of air defence. It also demonstrates its ability to interact within an international maritime force to provide joint defence action against supersonic and ballistic missiles.
The FS AAWD Forbin has been participating in the At-Sea Demo/Formidable Shield since May 15. A maritime force comprised of some 15 Allied ships, and nearly 3,300 sailors, implements its anti-aircraft and anti-missile warfare capacities, notably through live firing on a variety of targets. At-Sea Demo/Formidable Shield 21 is organised by the U.S. Sixth Fleet Command and conducted under Naval Striking and Support Forces – NATO´s operational command.