Exercise Formidable Shield 19 has started at the Ministry of Defence’s Hebrides Range located on the Western Isles of Scotland.

The US 6th Fleet will lead the exercise May 7th to 19th.

The purpose of Formidable Shield is to improve allied interoperability in a live-fire integrated air and missile (IAMD) environment, using NATO command and control reporting structures.

Formidable Shield will therefore have a huge impact on shipping and air traffic. Shipping traffic will be forbidden from travelling through part of the exercise area during the period Formidable Shield is taking place.

Captain Jonathan Lipps, Deputy Commander for Task Force 64, US Navy 6th Fleet, said:

“The range here provides a great opportunity to integrate the forces of the alliance, the members of the task force, the water space and the air space that we need to execute this fight.  It’s of vital importance.

There are few places in the world that we can conduct this type of operation. Here we can do it safely and capture the lessons learned that we need to build for the future.”

Steve Fitz-Gerald, Managing Director Maritime, Land and Weapons, QinetiQ said:

“Being able to undertake such complex and important exercises is vital for the UK’s future defence capability. In the MOD Hebrides Range, we have a truly world-class capability on our door step that is attractive to international customers and Formidable Shield demonstrates what the facility is capable of.

QinetiQ will continue to make improvements and upgrade facilities as we look to meet our strategy of modernising UK test and evaluation.”

Nine nations will participate by sending ships, including Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Belgium and Germany will support the exercise with staff officers embarked with Task Group IAMD.

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It’s a cool place that missile testing range, I used to work around that area after storms fixing roofs. Never seen it been used though! That would be cool.

andy reeves

bet you knew all the ‘birds’ there, as well!!!


Units taking part in the drill will include Italian FREMM frigate ITS Carlo Bergamini, Royal Navy Type 45 destroyer HMS Defender, Canadian Halifax-class frigate HMCS St. John’s, French FREMM frigate FS Bretagne, Dutch De Zeven Provinciën-class frigate HNLMS De Ruyter, Norwegian Fridtjof Nansen-class frigate HNoMS Otto Sverdrup and US Navy destroyers USS Roosevelt and USS Carney.

Belgium and Germany will support the exercise with staff officers embarked with Task Group IAMD.


No Spanish. Been banned for continued bad behaviour around Gibraltar? Who wants partners like that?


I think Germany should be forced to leave NATO. They are forever coming up short on their responsibilities for one of the most successful economies in the alliance. This is a disgrace not least of which given all the NATO units that were based in Germany through the 60s and 70s and beyond for their protection.

andy reeves

and all their kit is broken, so they can’t contribute anyway.


But the UK’s ok buying thousands of German lorry’s for our army over 7 Thousand + of them! And we closed down most uk lorry factory’s leaving just 1 now! But atleast that 1 left seems to be expanding and creating more lorry’s and work. I liked the (A) british Army lorry’s…


That’s a interesting idea, I would assume it means all non German military must leave the country? That has the potential to change European geopolitics in a interesting way


There was over 20,000 British military personal in Germany in the 2000s and far more before the 2000s. But it sucks because when we decided to take the majority back home they scrapped hundreds of German based tanks and thousands of personnel…

Paul T

Ive just done a rough calculation,if Germany was to spend 2% of its GDP on defence that would work out to around £62 billion,so roughly one third bigger a budget than what the UK spends.Might I suggest that Germany would find it quite hard to spend that and still be within its Treaty obligations (CFE) ? Admittedly they fall short but with a political system that includes coalition Government and a big Green Party influence its not hard to see why they are not putting more funding in.


The price if defence is difficult in any economy, there is always going to ne be something softer or more politically beneficial to spend its money on. But if a newly resurgiant Russia decides to take back East Germany (or more) – see Crimea, would NATO respond? It would obviosly be up to the US but i would say no and would not want UK forces comited to a country that blatantly flouts its obligations.

andy reeves

this successful economy is a myth, the german economy is nowhere near what it was. they, like the u.k have used the armed forces as a way of keeping lots of euros in the bank. as for the cold war years, they got it all for free, from NATO nations who put their assets in the communal ‘pot’ but yes they do need a kick up the a** an get told to pull their fingers out, or get out.


Spain participates.


The HNLMS De Ruyter has the Thales SMART-L radar which could be considered a base version of the T45’s S1850. Thales are upgrading the SMART-L to MM this turns it from a PESA to an AESA radar. I believe one of the Dutch frigates has been fitted with the new radar and is currently undergoing trials. The Smart-MM gives the ship full anti-ballistic missile capability when paired with the SM2 ER.
Be interesting to see if our T45s get the upgrade for their S1850 radars?

andy reeves

acronyms, what are you talking about? what on earth is a SMART-L?


I agree actually I do get a little tired having to google a lot of those I am not aware of when a few extra words as a hint would just give a little of a legs up to satisfy our immediate needs in terms of comprehension of what one is saying. It started off doing just that actually but SM2 ER and SMART MM is beyond me I’m afraid.


Ok, here goes: 1. Thales Netherlands built and designed the SMART-L radar. This stands for “Signaal Multibeam Acquisition Radar for Tracking, L band” (1 to 2 Ghz). 2. PESA = Passive Electronically Scanned Array. Instead of using one dipole antenna. An electronic array uses a collection of antennas. These antennas can be electronically time controlled which when put together will alter the arrays transmission and receive angles to give you electronic beam steering. The PESA usually only uses a narrow band of frequencies for example 1.5GHz to 1.7GHz, this is enough to give it some resistance to jamming. 3. The… Read more »

andy reeves

judging by the picture, i would be an impressive thing to see on video. guy fawkes and warships together? yes please


Afternoon all. Interesting read, noticed the build-up to this over on Navy Lookout.

Meanwhile, terrible news coming from our anti-poaching mission.


Germany provides zero ships. Big surprise.


Listing ships can only defend themselves on one side sadly.

Geoffrey Hicking

The photo says “three vessels launch missiles”, when to my eye it looks like four…


Hand in hand with the increased ops tempo in the Atlantic theater…




Another reason scotland needs to stay part of the UK. I’m surprised the retarded SNP aren’t complaining about the missile test range and cape wrath sighting wildlife ect,

andy reeves

NESTING BIRDS FFS!! AS FOR THE SNP, ignore them and they’ll go away.


Off topic. The press are reporting that the Type31e is not going to make it either financially or militarily viable. Does this mean more T26s? Or more River Class types?

If the idea was to build for export then that is not looking likely. The T26s in fact seem more of a possibility.


From what I have read the MOD has recognised that they need to treat the £250m price point as the base construction cost, with armament in addition to this. Just means a tweak to the contract rules rather than restarting or admitting they got something wrong!

Daniele Mandelli

Exactly. Why did they not recognise this in the first place?

Are they meant to be experts or not?

Much of the armament, radar, and such will come over from the T23’s so the stuff already exists.


If true this could be good news though and I’m happy they recognise it was a mistake. We may end up with decent ships instead of glorified OPVs.

For me, main gun, sea ceptor, 12 MK41 VLS silo, and CIWS would be ideal, as well as space and hangar for wildcat.

Daniele Mandelli

Well that is the crux of the matter. Quality vs quantity, that same old chestnut again. Do we want ship numbers, few ships but quality of T26, or somewhere in between? We have too few ships. T45’s, Survey Ships, RFA’s, LPD’s, Bays’, all being used in place of escorts or OPV type ships for constabulary tasks. Yes I know people argue this point saying at least they are being used, but then we all complain there are no escorts for the carriers once they are ready to deploy. The T31 needs to be able to defend itself and have an… Read more »


I agree, but with one caveat – please, please don’t reinvent the Type 21. A ship that was designed for a similar role, that when tested for real was found to be seriously floored, ending up as a sacrificial lamb to protect the San Carlos beach landings. I admit SeaCeptor is a quantum leap in capability when compared to the T21’s SeaCat. But that is only one portion of the ship’s fighting capabilities. The ship is supposed to be earmarked for constabulary duties. So when the cack hits the fan, it has to fight/defend itself with what is immediately to… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Of course, the safety of the crew is paramount. The ship must be useful and capable.

It is a difficult balance.

Fit dipping sonar on the Wildcats?

What in your opinion is bare minimum as armament, radar, ECM fit, etc?


I think personally the ship must be designed for future growth and not constrained by size and role like the T21s were. Therefore the ship needs to be designed from the outset as a true fighty ship which means it must have the necessary armour, systems partitioning and damage control from the start. The weapons are pretty easy as the 4.5″ gun and SeaCeptor are a given. A hangar with room for a Wildcat size helicopter is a must. This means it brings Martlet and Sea Venom anti-ship missiles. The Wildcat could be upgraded with a dipping sonar. However, I… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Thanks Davey.

Sounds expensive….quite a shopping list.

Nick C

I got to the bottom of that rather extensive shopping list, and reckoned it might be quite close to the T26. Then I read the last line……


I am sorry about starting this off topic. But The Telegraph (I know, what do they know!) were suggesting the project was going to be stopped.
I take the point about putting weapons on as and when required.

I am just curious what experts might think on here.
T26s with less armament but later upgraded might just as well suit and we have already got deals abroad for it whilst the putative T31 is in a difficult market for exports.

T26A for Australia. T26B for Britain. T26C for Canada. And T26E for export.

And of course, T26N for US (N)avy!!


There was an original thought that the T31 program would be built outside the BAE conglomerate, as this would inject a bit of competition into the market and perhaps drive down overall costs. The problem as I see it, is that the Navy need a replacement for the T23s now. But the ship designs that have been offered are primarily small general purpose designs of a corvette (unlike the Arrowhead design). The problem with small ships like corvettes is that they do not have room for growth. They say steal is cheap and its the systems that get put in… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Am I right in my understanding that much of the sheer cost of the T26 was due to the hull and quiet propulsion system?

Because if they can be built far cheaper in a GP role I don’t see why they don’t go all T26.

Why did they not follow that route in the first place if it was this simple?

andy reeves

the sigma 10514 corvette is an interesting subject in so far as that it is just 10 meters longer than a batch 2 river, same beam is 4 knots faster, needs 20 more crew yet, carries 4 exocet, an oto melara 76mm gun, two quad anti air launchers, two triple torpedo launchers this goes to show that money redirected from the t31 budget to upgrade the 9 rivers to these levels would see a rapid rise of nearly a third on the current fleet size, especially as the rivers are ALREADY BUILT. BAE designed the rivers, tell them to redesign… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Does it have the range for what the RN requires?

andy reeves

i’ve always had doubts about the t31 ever happening, the costing restraints were a non starter all along, the usual fudging about at the M.O.D will see that the paltry size of the fleet, will at best stay the same.