HMS Defender has shot down a drone off the Scottish coast.

The missile firing took place as part of NATO Exercise Formidable Shield and was designed to test the ability of the vessel to shoot down an incoming drone target designed to simulate a projectile attack on the ship.

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

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

“The [Hebrides] 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.”

Defender’s Senior Warfare Officer, Lieutenant Commander Daniel Lee, said in a news release:

“Being a part of our first firing against a fast-moving, low-level target has been a really rewarding experience. Proving the effectiveness of the Sea Viper system against a more challenging target reassures us in the ability of HMS Defender to deliver on operations as an air defence destroyer.”

According to a Royal Navy release:

“Just two and a half seconds after erupting from HMS Defender’s silo, the missile accelerates to more than four times the speed of sound – otherwise known as Mach 4. High over the seas, it then manoeuvres at G-forces which no human being could withstand, to close in and destroy the target.”

The Sea Viper system tracks aircraft and other objects across thousands of cubic miles of airspace, identifies threats, and destroys them when necessary.

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“The missile firing took place as part of NATO Exercise Formidable Shield and was designed to test the ability of the vessel to shoot down an incoming drone target designed to simulate a projectile attack on the ship.”

That’s a relief. I thought for a moment that they might have ruined some kid’s birthday in dramatic fashion.

Andrew Blackamore

That “drone” would be the large unmanned reconnaissance aircraft not the tiny quad copters most people have.


“Being a part of our first firing against a fast-moving, low-level target…” am I missing something? This is the first time Defender has fired live against this kind of target in the ten years since Defender was launched?

john martin

It is all I really hope this works!!!


So it appears to be a Kratos firejet target drone with a max speed of 400 mph hardly a difficult target as reported.The RN have not yet shot down any supersonic targets unlike France,U.S.,Canada etc, why?


Thanks gwm, do you have any links?


It’s on the Jane’s site,there are various reports saying it was a supersonic target but the RN doesn’t say so and I tend to believe Jane’s they are rarely wrong.


In the RN released movie, the last few seconds are “replay” of radar image of the kill. Then you can see, “FIREGET” as marked as the target. I think it is the MQM-178 ‘Firejet’, capable only up to 0.69 Mach.

John Hampson

Knocking down a sub sonic dumb non stealthy drone flying at pre determined tangenital course is the equivalent of Generals planning for the next war with tactics from the last. It makes good PR. It re-enforces the delusions of MoD accountants and Politicians. It is an excercise in self delusion. What it does not do is demonsrate an ability to defend against modern threat such as a Brahmos. never mind the coming Brahmos-NG. Pretending that current systems are capable of defending a vessel that may only get 10 to 15 seconds warning is to use a current phrase, a failure… Read more »


Again the statement of being the first time an Aster 15 has shot down a supersonic target is open to interpretation. The Aster 30 has shot down both supersonic sea skimming and short range ballistic missiles by both T45, the French navy frigate Forbin and Italian test ship Carabiniere. The Aster 30 is basically an Aster 30 with a rocket booster attached to it. So technically you could say Sea Viper which is Aster 15/30 has shot down both supersonic sea skimming and short range ballistic missiles. According to the MOD brief they fired off 12 missile targets during the… Read more »


At least the T45 and 23 HAVE AA missiles that are effective. We have better than 30 combatants with no real AA capability. That may FINALLY start changing – reality has GOT to start intruding at sometime in the near future or we’re sunk…



Yes when we berate the MOD for its sometimes odd decisions and poor project management we can take small comfort in the even greater mess the U.S. makes of so many of theirs.


I fear we will make the same mistake with the T31.


To be fair the Type 45 has demonstrated it can track ballistic targets via Sampson but the current variant of Aster being carried can’t intercept it.I’m more concerned that seaviper has not been proven against a supersonic manoeuvring target.I suspect this is just pennypinching by the MOD as those targets are a lot more expensive.

Rob N

Aster 30 has shot down a GQM-163A Coyote they are supersonic. So Sea Viper should do just as well if not better. It has also killed an Israeli Black Sparrow ABM target. The reaction time of Sea Viper should be very good too in automatic (with no dithering humans to slow things down). I suspect you could get several shots off in 10 seconds… The Aster v1 upgrade should be the RNs next step as it involves soft and firmware updates only. This would give the T45 a short range ABM capability. Also add the extra VLS spaces and upgrade… Read more »


Yes it should but has not been demonstrated, only land based Aster block 1 has been tested in ABM which is not fielded by the UK.

Rob N

Yes hence the need for an urgent update to the block 1 standard. I cannot see why given it does not need any new equipment this cannot be done quickly and relatively cheaply.

If they do not take this opportunity the UK will be lagging behind its US and Western European NATO members. It should be a prerequisite to any escort of QE to the South China sea…


Yes it should be cheap enough but it doesn’t have the capability to stop the Chinese DF21D if that system works as they claim.


And that is a big if.
As you said its a system. It needs targeting systems, launch vehicles , data fusion, satellites, down links…
if any of it hicups it wont work…


Yes I am sceptical about it, they only tested it against a fixed target in a desert, a moving ship more than 2000 miles away is a different level of dificulty.


Why the carriers will become more critical supported by strong auxiliary fleet


Is it just me or is NATO uping its readyness. Major exercises in Norway/Sweden, major naval exercises in the NW Scotland, Med and later the Baltic. Quite a few of these exercises are live firing ones, are they sending a message.