The US and eight partner nations are taking part in a 12-day Nato exercise Formidable Shield, which is being held at the UK’s Hebrides Range in the Western Isles of Scotland.

The US Navy-led exercise is a live-fire air and missile defence drill and involves the participation of ships from nine Nato countries.

A total of 13 ships, ten aircraft, and around 3,300 personnel will take part in the drills.

The participating nations are Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, the UK, and the US.

Nato spokesperson Oana Lungescu said: “Formidable Shield shows how allies are working together to protect Nato forces and populations from the real threat of ballistic missiles.

“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.”

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“Formidable Shield shows how allies are working together to protect Nato forces and populations from the real threat of ballistic missiles.”

During the exercise, the participating ships will detect, track and defend against an array of anti-ship and ballistic missiles using Nato command and control procedures.

The exercise is taking place over a huge area in the North Atlantic. It will also see the vessels perform various drills including sharing real-time tactical information, conducting joint mission planning, and engagement coordination.

In addition, the drills will be supported by maritime patrol aircraft and Nato AWACS surveillance aircraft.

The aircraft will be responsible for providing aerial over-watch and making sure the airspace is clear.

Formidable Shield will run until 19 May and is being conducted by Naval Striking and Support Forces Nato on behalf of the US Navy.

In 2010, Nato decided to ensure increased protection for European Allies from ballistic missile threats.