By MC1 Theron J. Godbold
The Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) successfully fired a standard missile 3 ballistic missile interceptor while participating in exercise Formidable Shield 2017, Oct. 15, 2017.
The purpose of Formidable Shield 17 is to improve allied interoperability in a live-fire integrated air and missile defense (IAMD) environment, using NATO command and control reporting structures. Formidable Shield is the fleet-led counterpart to the science and technology-centric At Sea Demonstration 2015, which was organized by the Maritime Theater Missile Defense (MTMD) Forum. This exercise will demonstrate many “firsts.” Among these are: the first time a NATO IAMD Task Group is exercised at sea; the first exercise that includes a no-notice launch of air defense targets in the European maritime domain; and the first live-fire version of the SMART DEFENSE concept, which involves air defense units protecting ballistic missile defense units..
“Today's event marks the first live-fire representation of the Smart Defense concept which involves NATO air defense capable ships protecting a BMD asset,” said Cmdr. Timothy Moore, commanding officer USS Donald Cook (DDG 75). “I am unreservedly impressed with the amazing efforts of my crew, specifically the Combat Systems and Weapons team, coupled with our civilian test team to make this a highly successful event. The long hours of rehearsing and preparing for this day have resulted in 100% readiness to support MDA testing and the U.S. Navy's interoperability objectives."
Formidable Shield 17 provides an opportunity to use portions of the NATO BMD architecture and develop potential tactics, techniques and procedures in the NATO area of operations.
"Formidable Shield 2017 has been both challenging and rewarding for all Sailors onboard Donald Cook from the junior technicians to the senior tacticians,” said Ensign Stephen Potter, system test officer, USS Donald Cook (DDG 75).” I'm proud of the hard work, dedication and professionalism of our sailors, DoD civilians and NATO allies in the execution of maritime integrated air missile defense. Our successful SM3 live fire event helps not only build confidence in our equipment, capabilities and tactics but also in the entire NATO alliance. This exercise has taught our sailors to better utilize the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense capability to ensure stability, peace and prosperity in the European region for years to come."
At-Sea Demonstration 15, conducted in October 2015 by the Maritime Theater Missile Defense (MTMD) Forum, demonstrated coalition maritime integrated air and missile defense capabilities. While similar events have been conducted in the Pacific, no tactically driven, operationally focused fleet ballistic missile defense firings have been executed previously in the European area of operations.
"Formidable Shield has been one of the most complex BMD missions, I've been a part of,” said Mr. Derek Bryant, Shipboard Project Officer, Naval Surface Warfare Center, Port Hueneme. “Luckily, we've been able to take full advantage of the lessons learned and infrastructure from ASD 15 and similar BMD events in the Pacific region to now demonstrate advanced capabilities here in Europe. Throughout this significant event, a well-versed crew of sailors, DoD civilians and NATO allies has made this an easy, rewarding and manageable event."
There are plans for Formidable Shield to become a biennial exercise series that will continue to improve the capabilities of allied integrated air and missile defense units as they work together to provide security and stability within the region.