The British Royal Navy’s Type 23 frigate, HMS Sutherland, has showcased the ability to covertly light up enemy forces using an infra-red shell during the Joint Warrior exercise off the west coast of Scotland.

HMS Sutherland fired a para illum star shell from its 4.5in main gun to light up the rugged terrain at Cape Wrath during a night shoot.

The flare covered the area in an ‘eerie greenish-white light’ for around 30 seconds.

The infra-red shell is intended to illuminate a specific area on the battlefield not visible to the naked eye. However, friendly forces equipped with appropriate eyewear can view the infra-red light.

Although such flares have been in use for many decades now, the infra-red shell is a new addition.

The ship’s team fired around 100 high explosive shells during the shoot.

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Observers operating from ashore provided target positions to gunners in Sutherland’s operations room.

HMS Sutherland Operations Officer Lieutenant Commander James Mitchell said: “Naval gunfire support is an advanced operation involving teams ashore and onboard.

“It requires accurate information from the observers ashore, accurate gunnery from us so the shells land in the right place.”

Sutherland is taking part in naval warfare training alongside French assault ship FS Tonnerre and Britain’s flagship HMS Albion as part of a task group.

Exercise Griffin Strike is designed to test the ability of the two navies to work in coordination with each other.

France and the UK are working to create a joint task force with the capability to respond to any future crisis within a short time period.

The exercise is being conducted as part of a broader Nato exercise called Joint Warrior.