NATO allies begin inaugural Exercise Formidable Shield 2017

NATO allies have begun the inaugural live-fire Integrated Air and Missile Defence (IAMD) exercise Formidable Shield 17 on Sept. 24 , NATO said in a statement.

The exercise is executed by Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO) on behalf of U.S. 6th Fleet at the U.K. Ministry of Defense’s Hebrides Range in the vicinity of the Western Isles of Scotland.

STRIKFORNATO, based in Oeiras, Lisbon in Portugal, is a rapidly deployable, maritime headquarters that provides scalable command and control across the full spectrum of warfare areas. Comprised of 12 nations, STRIKFORNATO focuses on Joint Maritime Expeditionary Operations, mainly through the integration of U.S. naval and amphibious forces into NATO operations.

The drill, scheduled to conclude on Oct. 18, is the first time a NATO IAMD task group will be exercised at sea.

Formidable Shield 17 is an exercise aimed to improve allied interoperability in a live-fire, Integrated Air and Missile Defence (IAMD) environment, using NATO command and control reporting structures.

It provides an opportunity to simulate real world operations, highlighted by combined IAMD and air defence live-fire engagements.

More than 14 ships, 10 aircraft, and approximately 3,300 personnel from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States are participating in Formidable Shield. Staff members from Belgium and Denmark are also contributing to the inaugural iteration of Formidable Shield.

Maritime patrol aircraft and NATO AWACS surveillance aircraft will provide aerial over-watch and ensure that the airspace is clear.

U.S. ships involved include the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Donald Cook (DDG-75), USS Mitscher (DDG-57) and USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG-81).

According to the NATO statement, this exercise is planned to be a recurring, biennial event, which is designed to assure allies, deter adversaries, and demonstrate our commitment to collective defense of the alliance.

Parts of Formidable Shield will overlap with the UK-led Joint Warrior exercise, which also takes place in Scotland.

Formidable Shield will see Allied ships detecting, tracking and defending against a range of anti-ship and ballistic missiles using NATO command and control procedures.

For the first time, an exercise in the European theatre will include a no-notice launch of ballistic and air defence targets and will test the live-fire version of the SMART DEFENCE concept, which involves air defence units protecting ballistic missile defence units.

NATO decided to develop a capability to defend its European members from ballistic missile threats in 2010. NATO missile defence links Allied sensors and weapons together in a single system.

Major components of NATO missile defence include four U.S. Navy destroyers with the ‘Aegis’ missile defence system home-ported in Rota, Spain and a U.S. operated land-based system in Romania known as ‘Aegis Ashore’.

Other key components include an early warning radar in Turkey. NATO’s air command in Ramstein, Germany, commands the system.

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