Royal Navy warships HMS Defender and HMS Kent are at the heart of a formidable NATO task force currently off the coast of Scotland.

The aim of this robust assembly is to scrutinise the alliance’s impressive missile and air defence capabilities within the challenging expanse of the North Atlantic.

This task group comprises over 20 ships and 35 aircraft, drawn from 13 NATO allies and partners. Now eight days into an intense three-week drill, the focus is on the trial of advanced weaponry and air defence systems.

NATO Ship Formation for PHOTEX
As seen from on board HMS Defender, NATO ships form up in order to conduct a PHOTEX including a fly-over by the French Air Force during Formidable Shield 23 in the North Atlantic.

The biennial Exercise Formidable Shield is designed to test the joint force through a series of live-fire events against an array of targets ranging from subsonic to supersonic and ballistic. The exercise generates a complex ‘Integrated Air and Missile Defence’ (IAMD) scenario, leveraging the most advanced technologies globally, and assisting allies to operate seamlessly in unison.

One of the early major workouts was an aerial ‘combat’ featuring French Rafale strike fighters and the air defence destroyer HMS Defender.

“Pitting fast air against fast air requires total concentration from the fighter controllers,” Lieutenant Commander Simon Scamp, Defender’s Air Warfare Officer, explained.

“Although Defender’s team had not recently worked with the French Rafales, being able to conduct a complex sortie like this at fairly short notice demonstrates how our ability to work together is pretty much ‘plug-and-play’. The Type 45 is one of the most capable airspace battle management platforms in the world and it is always a pleasure to work with the French Air Force.”

The Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO), under the leadership of Royal Navy Rear Admiral James Morley, are overseeing the exercise.

“Formidable Shield is the premier IAMD and live-fire rehearsal in the European theatre, and highlights STRIKFORNATO’s proficiency in seamlessly integrating allied and partner maritime and air forces into combined operations,” said Rear Admiral Morley, deputy commander, STRIKFORNATO.

He further emphasised the importance of such exercises, stating, “The strength and unmatched cohesion of our trans-Atlantic Alliance – now at 31 members with the addition of our capable Finnish allies – lies in our mutual commitment to one another and to the deterrence and defence of the Euro-Atlantic area. This commitment shines through in complex, high-end evolutions like Formidable Shield.”

As the exercise unfolds over the remaining weeks, the world will watch as the NATO alliance demonstrates its readiness, unity, and technological prowess in this impressive display of air and missile defence capabilities.

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George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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Ken
Ken (@guest_723815)
1 year ago

But are they armoured?

Jack
Jack (@guest_723818)
1 year ago
Reply to  Ken

No, that would be too aggressive.

Sean
Sean (@guest_723828)
1 year ago
Reply to  Ken

Asking all the right questions, I think you might have a future as a SNP MP 😉

Rob Richardson
Rob Richardson (@guest_723887)
1 year ago
Reply to  Ken

No they can’t be as they are too close to Scotland.

David Barry
David Barry (@guest_723827)
1 year ago

O/T Interesting little piece about why we need a fully fledged and supported Cmdo Bde in addition to what we have now! ( 😉 )

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6X5I_HlDoA

Having The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Finland and the Baltics create a Division would be a game changer.

Of course they would need amphibious lift, along with AD and ASW, but, I’m sure the oil companies would be happy to support their future profits.

Deep32
Deep32 (@guest_723861)
1 year ago
Reply to  David Barry

Hi Barry, there is an interesting article over on the Think Defence site called ‘Future Soldier’ which covers the formation of a JEF Division and how the UK might contribute to it. Well worth a read, as are most of the articles he produces.

David Barry
David Barry (@guest_723865)
1 year ago
Reply to  Deep32

Hi Deep

Thanks for heads up.

David

Rob Young
Rob Young (@guest_723834)
1 year ago

Just waiting for the SNP to either object to their presence or simply clain it as false news. Or claim that the small number of RN ships proves that we can’t defend ourselves and therefore Scotland should become independent.

Steve
Steve (@guest_723989)
1 year ago
Reply to  Rob Young

🤣🤣👏👏

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_723840)
1 year ago

Breaking news.

T31 Frigates to be fitted with Mk41 VLS.

Deep32
Deep32 (@guest_723860)
1 year ago

Thats excellent news mate. Obviously that will now start the ‘merry-go-round’ of whats going in them!!! Should make for some lively debate on the site!

Sean
Sean (@guest_723879)
1 year ago
Reply to  Deep32

Potentially up to 129 Sea Ceptors! 😆
But will be interesting to find out the mix, probably will vary to a degree by tasking.

Deep32
Deep32 (@guest_723886)
1 year ago
Reply to  Sean

Without a doubt will vary according to mission, but currently we don’t have anything offensive to put in them. FCASM is not due until late 20’s at the earliest. Give it 6-12 months and we will probably get some news from the RN on what it intends to stick in them.

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker (@guest_723900)
1 year ago
Reply to  Deep32

Can a politician fit in mk41? Probably the worst thing we could launch at an enemy. They land right on the front benches. 😂😂😂😂

David Barry
David Barry (@guest_723866)
1 year ago

Links?

David Barry
David Barry (@guest_723909)
1 year ago
Reply to  Sean

Thanks Sean.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_723885)
1 year ago
Reply to  David Barry

Sorry David., bad habit.

David Barry
David Barry (@guest_723910)
1 year ago

No worries Daniele.

Sean
Sean (@guest_723877)
1 year ago

Four 8 cell Mk41 Strike-Length VLS modules 👍🏻

AlexS
AlexS (@guest_723953)
1 year ago
Reply to  Sean

I would be careful about CAMM and Mk 41.
First it needs another launcher inside the MK41 which have never been used or tested.
My bet is that the CAMM would be independent VLS launchers from MK 41.

Sean
Sean (@guest_723958)
1 year ago
Reply to  AlexS

TBH that would be my preference, and to keep the MK41 for ‘beefier’ stuff.

Though having the capability to use some of the MK41s for CAMM could be useful on taskings where air is the primary threat or where the T31 is expected to provide greater air-cover than usual.

AlexS
AlexS (@guest_724127)
1 year ago
Reply to  Sean

Yes, but i don’t think that is just plug and play and i am not sure the eventual difference of performance by launching from mk41 plus the launch module inside and the exterior cells would not need special certification and code in the fire control.

Andrew D
Andrew D (@guest_723921)
1 year ago

Very wise 😀

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke (@guest_723933)
1 year ago

Super news. I’ve been pretty convinced that would happen since former 1SL and now CDS told Def Select Committee that he wanted it. So now T31 has MK41 VLS, Sea Ceptor and potentially 8 NSM. Someone will say it isn’t any use because it isn’t an aircraft carrier or some such rubbish. Sounds pretty well armed with things that work to me. Getting the Mk41 VLS is major as it mean uparming is quicker with new missile types as so many are Mk31 VLS compatible as well as being integrated into TACTICOS. Excellent news for RN, UK, NATO. I suspect… Read more »

Sean
Sean (@guest_723959)
1 year ago

Agreed, someone will complain it still lacks 15” superfiring turrets…

But T31 is turning out to be quite fighty… and this is before it gets any in-service enhancements.

Geordie
Geordie (@guest_723843)
1 year ago

Any ideas on number of missiles there shooting down or intercepting

Mr Bell
Mr Bell (@guest_724163)
1 year ago
Reply to  Geordie

24 sea ceptor in mushroom farm. 8 NSM, 32 cell Mk41 vls. That’s a pretty decent fighting capability. Add the excellent ciws in the form of 2x40mm Bofors and the 56mm BAE gun and you’ve got a really decent close guardian for a carrier or frigate able to conduct close inshore work or launch a long range strike with LRASM, NSM or Hypersonics.

Dern
Dern (@guest_723908)
1 year ago

But at least the Inspirations will have Mk41 now…

Mr Bell
Mr Bell (@guest_724016)
1 year ago

That’s a powerful force. Baring in mind this is but a fraction of the surface warship fleet of the NATO alliance it is a real wake up call to the Russian fascists and China. China needs 10-15 years more massed warship construction to match NATO.

Airborne
Airborne (@guest_724091)
1 year ago

SNP to be issued binoculars and receive a 5 minute briefing on the military (that’s SME territory in the SNP)!