It has emerged that an unguided two-stage rocket system used to test ballistic missile defence became the first vehicle to lift off from the UK and leave the Earth’s atmosphere.
The launch took place last October during an international military exercise in the Atlantic. One of the targets destroyed was the vehicle in question, an American Terrier Oriole designed to simulate a ballistic missile.
The test involved ships from the United States, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, and the United Kingdom.
The United Kingdom hosted the event at its Hebrides Missile Test Range in Scotland. Commodore Frank Sijtsma of the Royal Netherlands Navy commanded the task group.
During the demonstration, the vessels defended against simultaneous anti-ship and ballistic missile threats originating from multiple locations. The countries had to pass information over a total of 5.7 million square miles using a variety of platforms from different countries to identify, track and engage the threats.
The fleet fired more than 26 missiles, including the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile and the SM-3 in the US inventory and the Aster-30 missile used by France, Italy and the United Kingdom.
Commander of US Naval Forces Europe-Africa Admiral Mark Ferguson said:
“Today, nine member nations of the Maritime Theater Missile Defence Forum, under the auspices of the US Missile Defence Agency, successfully conducted the simultaneous engagement of a ballistic missile in space and an anti-ship cruise missile target, the first demonstration of this capability in the European theatre, the execution of the live-fire exercise is a clear demonstration of the forum’s ability to safely conduct effective coalition sea-based defence against simultaneous anti-ship and ballistic missile threats within an operational scenario.
To remain proficient, we must practice unified, decisive, and timely command and control. Continuous training also hones our operational tactics, techniques, and procedures, which helps us achieve the level of readiness required to execute such a demanding fast-paced mission as ballistic missile defence.”
The test was performed to underline the Nato commitment to missile defence of member states.