NATO and the United States Air Forces Europe participated in the European Air and Missile Defense Exercise the first phase of the NATO Exercise STEADFAST ARMOUR 2021 (STAR-21), January 25-26, 2021.

STAR-21 is NATO’s main exercise for the rehearsal of the Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) mission, executed from the operational to tactical levels, utilising existing plans and procedures in a simulated scenario defending NATO European populations, territory and forces.

During the two-day exercise personnel focused on working with various NATO and US headquarters around Europe to plan and execute the NATO BMD mission defending against ballistic missiles attacks from outside the Euro-Atlantic area.

“The team have again delivered an outstanding effort, demonstrating our ability to react to emerging threats from outside the Euro-Atlantic area,” said Brigadier General Andrew Hansen, Deputy Chief of Staff Operations, Allied Air Command.

“NATO BMD contributes to NATO’s Integrated Air and Missile Defence, exercises like these test our plans and procedures ensuring we are ready to deliver a truly coordinated and collective defence for the Alliance,” he added.

In 2021, the exercise is taking place in conjunction with other NATO nations’ exercises, ensuring the readiness of NATO and national forces during the COVID-19 pandemic and Allied Air Commands ability to deliver this vital mission.

“The integration of US and NATO commands, along with further improvements of the command and control systems, advances the capability and effectiveness of NATO BMD. STAR-21 marks a key milestone in the continuing U.S. European Phased Adaptive Approach and NATO Missile Defense program,” said Vice Admiral Gene Black, Commander STRIKFORNATO and Commander U.S. Sixth Fleet.

STAR-21 is the principal missile defence exercise of the year for NATO, showcasing the fusion of sensors, weapon systems, and operators’ abilities to meet current and future threats to the Alliance.

2.4 5 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

So it was a TEWT.


Which EU nations have capability to take out a ballistic missile? I understand the t45 can potentially do it but would require an upgrade. What about France etc?

Sceptical Richard

Both France and Italy have SAMP/T land based batteries which use the same Aster missile as Sea Viper. In its latest Block1-NT iteration it has been given an endo-atmospheric anti-BM capability. The Italian navy has a programme to integrate B1-NT on some ITN units. I’m not sure about the French navy. Holland has a programme to equip its Zeven Provincien AAW frigates with a modification to its SMART/L and APAR radars to enable it to fire Standard SM-3B missiles which have an ABM capability. The German and Danish navies, which have similarly equipped ships (Schassen and Iver Huidfeldt) are looking… Read more »


“The Italian Navy FREMM frigate Carlo Bergamini equipped with Leonardo’s MFRA was able to detect and track the launch and impact point of a ballistic missile. The MFRA radar demonstrated its ability to detect the full range of threats presented during the exercise.”

They are now upgrading one of Horizon class destroyers in MLU , i suspect that might get something about ABM Asters.


Forgot to say that the French were the first to upgrade one of their Horizon.

Sceptical Richard

Thanks for this. I was unaware of this.

Sceptical Richard

You are absolutely right. Always been very impressed at how the Italians, with a relatively limited budget, have created, and continue to do so, a well balanced navy. The MFRA radar, otherwise known as the Kronos family of radars, is an AESA MFR operating in the C and X bands. In the Bergamini it’s a rotating array but in the new PPA and Trieste LHD its fixed arrays.


I think they are good on surface stuff, but limited on submarines.

Rob N

The T45 can already track BMs, Both Sampson and S1850 are both capable.

The ASTER 30 mod 0 would only need a programme update to bring the missile to the ASTER mod 1 standard used by the French in their land based SAM system.

so given only a bit of an update we could give the T45 a limited ABM capability. I hope we buy the upgraded 1NT missile as this has an upgraded radar.

The T45 should be fitted with its extra VLS and given the upgraded missiles.


I agree Ron – the Type 45 should have the extra VLS fitted be it Mk41 or otherwise but I just don’t see it ever happening unfortunately. Can it really be THAT expensive to have them added??

Sceptical Richard

The UK has no endorsed staff requirement for an ABM capability. The mind boggles. We are BM blind in this country. As you suggest, for a very limited expenditure we could gain such a capability with the T45 just as the Dutch are doing with their Zeven Provincien or French and Italians with their Horizon.

Paul T

Another Option would be ,Considering Type 45’s and 26’s would Likely be Sailing Together in the Same Task Group or could be Paired up for Other Deployments,have the MK41 Silos in the T26 Loaded with Aster B1NT/BMD and use the T45’s Radar Systems for Detection,Tracking and Cueing.


That was the system they used in the falklands, but it results extra hull requirements, which the fleet is already lacking.

Maybe it will be a topic that will be reconsidered as part of the SDSR, its possible now that the threat is getting more realistic.


The issue with ABM defence using warships is that its not all about the missile. Sensors and software need upgrades and once that’s done the vessel needs to ensure it is in the right place at the right time to conduct an engagement. The USN has had Tico/AB vessels allocated to this task and they basically have to troll around at slow speed keeping to within a known navigational box so that they get a chance to engage and possibly hit a target. That’s great if you want to protect Guam and have the spare ships to do it. The… Read more »


I think it’s more about shooting down anti ship balastic missiles. Transitional ICBM need massive numbers of silo / radar to be able to cover a whole country which is completely outside affordabiliy for any country.


The US Navy has demonstrated that it can shoot down an ICBM with an Aegis Destroyer equipped with an SM-3 in November 2020. Your statement that the USN ABM capability is limited to IRBMs is outdated.

US successfully intercepts ICBM with ship-launched missile in historic test – ABC News (


The can in theory shoot down one where all the variables are on their side. They know exactly where the missile will be fired and when etc. Whether they could do it in a real life scenario, is a completely different question. Plus your not realistically going to fire an ICBM at a ship, which means you would need such a battery near every major city of the US. Russia/USSR tried this but could only afford to protect Moscow and parts of St peters.

Last edited 1 month ago by Steve
4th watch

I understand the Chinese have medium range ballistic anti ship missiles. whether these rely on a direct hit or are nuclear tipped I’m not sure. So the risk is to ships as well as cities and military targets.


They have conventional warheads, although no idea if they could have nuclear. The issue that i see is if your firing from a very long range, you somehow need to find exactly where the ship is to target it (much easier with stationary land targets and tomahawk). A ballistic missile also won’t have much in the way of moveability for last minute redirection, due to its speed, so it needs to be on target well in advance. Sat targeting is an option, but that would be significantly delayed, during which the ship will move. Whether the Chinese missiles are a… Read more »


Yes they hit it . A representative target with all the engagement parameters on the side of the shooter.
In real life against something throwing MIRVs out and decoys it would be far more difficult

4th watch

The enemy might be targeting our ships; did we ever think of that? Besides our ships are always tooling around when firing armaments. We do need to become more war fighting aware dont we? Maybe try firing them in a gale because that could happen in a real war?


Rough weather is your friend! Waves, wind, rain etc make targeting far more difficult because there is loads of clutter and you become an indeterminate radar (or Sonar) contact.for an enemy Missile Shoots are not cheap. When you do them you get as much system info as you can out of it . That is why they are strictly monitored and only use a specific engagement parameter. When you do the data analysis at the end of it you look for issues with the system of systems that may need to be corrected. If there are no issues you take… Read more »

The Artist Formerly Known As Los Pollos Chicken

You could maybe explain this to me man since you are knowledgable on these matters. Would a T45 sitting in Portsmouth harbour if it was anti ballistic missile modified not be able to cover the U.K. for protection? Or am I thinking too simplistically ? If Blighty is only 600 miles or so up and doon? Not a massive area. Does having CEC make a difference when it comes to BM defence?

I’ll even accept a yes or no answer?


The simple answer is no. Both Sampson and S1850M can detect and track ballistic missiles. The S1850M has the greater range, so can detect objects in low earth orbit. The problem is that not all missiles fly the low earth orbit path. Missiles like the aforementioned Satan, fly a lot higher as a counter to ABMs. Therefore, not only do you need a more powerful radar to search for and then track these targets, but the ABM has to be significantly bigger to hold the required fuel to reach it. The only current Western missile system that intercept these, is… Read more »

The Artist Formerly Known As Los Pollos Chicken

Cheers very informative



Cheers! saved me answering.


reading the comments I wonder, can Sampson track a BM, I should hope so. Should the T45 have onboard ABMs there is no real point. We do not have enough T45s for a dedicated platform and the use of a BM against a ship or battle group on the high seas I don’t think is a viable solution. Don’t get me wrong, if we had the money I would like to see the T45s with the Mk 41 or Sylver A-70 VLS as give them some ABM ability or Anti IRBM abiliy. To have a T45 doing figure of eights… Read more »


I do think the T45s should get the Aster 30-1NTs at least, but if the budget can stretch to the BMD version, yes why not. The 1NTs add around another 50nm to the range of the standard Aster 30. So for a traditional threat such as an attack aircraft or anti-ship missile, with 3rd party help these targets can be engaged a lot further away. But, then there’s the anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM) threat. Granted, the ASBM must be pointed in the right area first, so will need help from a 3rd party such as as a reconnaissance satellite, aircraft,… Read more »


Davey, I agree with many if not all of your points. I agree that the T45s should if possible get the Aster 1NT, it does give a longer reach. As for the Aster BMD I’m not sure if the Sylver A-50 vls tubes will be long enough, the French have some A-70s in their frigates. So for Aster BMD which the T45 SAMPSON is ideal for, would need to have the extra 16 Mk41s or A-70s installed. This would also make sense as the limited missile fit of the T45 would be reduced even further if there were 8 Aster… Read more »


I see no reason to pick Aster BMD over SM3. Aster B2 BMD is a decade away atleast and currently has no financial support from customers AFAIK, whereas SM3 is a widespread, tested platform with US and Japanese support.


I agree, the T26 should have had either the full blown Sampson or the “Son of Sampson”, like how Thales designed the NS100 series from the SMART-L radars. The ship will in the main be operating on its own searching for subs or be part of a task group, but on the Group’s periphery, again searching for subs. Therefore, it will be the first ship in the firing line. Don’t get me wrong the passive electronically scanned array (PESA) Artisan is a very, very good radar. But it has had its day. Today’s ECM can and will compromise it, whereas… Read more »