A consortium of naval forces from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, UK and US have taken part in a live-fire integrated air and missile defense (IAMD) programme, which involved defending against three subsonic anti-ship cruise missiles.

This programme was conducted as part of the wider Formidable Shield 2017 (FS17) exercise.

Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO) is currently carrying out the Formidable Shield initiative on behalf of the U.S. 6th Fleet.

The exercise is intended to bolster allied interoperability in an IAMD scenario by making use of NATO command-and-control reporting structures and datalink architecture.

FS17 is the inaugural edition of the IAMD exercise.

Canadian frigate HMCS Montreal (FFH 336) fired Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles (ESSM) during the event, while the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mitscher (DDG 57) launched Standard Missiles-2 at the Mirach and Firejet anti-ship cruise missiles.

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The missiles were fired as part of a no-notice, anti-ship cruise missile launch within the IAMD exercise environment.

The Mirach and Firejet missiles were fired from the Hebrides Range located on the Western Isles of Scotland.

Italian Navy, STRIKFORNATO deputy chief of staff of operations rear adm. Francesco Covella said: “This exercise provides the opportunity to use portions of NATO BMD architecture and develop potential tactics, techniques and procedures in the NATO operations.

“STRIKFORNATO is, since 2016, the organisation responsible for control of NATO Maritime Ballistic Missile Defense forces; Formidable Shield is the ideal opportunity to exercise those capabilities at sea, for the first time, with a NATO IAMD task group.

“This exercise is a prime example of NATO strength and demonstrates the commitment of NATO allies to the security of Europe.”

Naval vessels from France, Italy and Spain, along with USS Donald Cook (DDG 75), tracked a short-range ballistic-missile target during the exercise, which was also launched fired from the UK Ministry of Defense’s Hebrides Range as part of a simulated engagement.

US Missile Defense Agency director lt. gen. Sam Greaves said: “The United States and our allies in NATO are developing credible, integrated systems to defend our nations from an evolving ballistic missile threat.

“Exercises like these provide the perfect opportunities to test our systems in the types of realistic environments our warfighters could expect to encounter.

“We have learned a great deal from these exercises so far, and I fully expect we will learn and demonstrate even more still, which are the primary purposes of holding these joint tests.”

“This exercise provides the opportunity to use portions of NATO BMD architecture and develop potential tactics, techniques and procedures in the NATO operations.”

More than 14 vessels, 10 aircraft and roughly 3,300 personnel from Canada, Denmark, Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, UK and US are taking part in FS17.

The US vessels currently participating in Formidable Shield include the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers Donald Cook, Mitscher, and USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81), and the Louis and Clark-class dry cargo ship USNS Medger Evers (T-AKE 13).

Formidable Shield 2017 began on 24 September and is slated to end on 18 October.

The exercise is set to be a recurring, biennial event and is intended to demonstrate the collective defence of the NATO alliance.