NATO ships start missile defence drill off Scotland

  • 08 May. 2019 -
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  • Last updated: 08 May. 2019 09:19

Ships from nine NATO countries are taking part in live-fire air and missile defence drills off the coast of Scotland from Tuesday (7 May 2019). Exercise Formidable Shield will take place at the United Kingdom’s Hebrides training range, in the Western Isles of Scotland and will run until 19 May. Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO will conduct the exercise on behalf of the US Navy.

“Formidable Shield shows how Allies are working together to protect NATO forces and populations from the real threat of ballistic missiles”, said NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu. “This is one of the world’s most sophisticated and complex air and missile defence exercises and a great example of how Allies are continuing to adapt to meet current and future security challenges”.

The exercise will see Allied ships detecting, tracking and defending against an array of anti-ship and ballistic missiles using NATO command and control procedures. Drills will include sharing real time tactical information, conducting joint mission planning, and engagement coordination.

Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States will participate by sending ships and aircraft. Belgium and Germany will support the exercise with staff officers. A total of 13 ships, 10 aircraft, and about 3,300 personnel are involved. Maritime patrol aircraft and NATO AWACS surveillance aircraft will provide aerial over-watch and ensure that the airspace is clear. Formidable Shield will cover a huge area in the North Atlantic - from more than 1,000 km west of the Scottish Hebrides, and from the south of Ireland to the southern end of Iceland.

The exercise follows NATO’s decision in 2010 to step up the defence of European Allies from ballistic missile threats. NATO missile defence links Allied sensors and weapons together in a single system. Major components of NATO missile defence currently include U.S. Navy destroyers fitted with the ‘Aegis’ missile defence system based in Rota, Spain; and a U.S.-operated land-based system in Romania known as Aegis Ashore. Other major components include an early warning radar in Turkey. NATO's air command in Ramstein, Germany is the responsible command.