Exercise Formidable Shield, a US-led multinational maritime integrated exercise designed to prepare forces to shoot down ballistic missiles has begun off the coast of Scotland.

A Royal Navy Type 45 Destroyer and two Type 23 Frigates will, alongside ships and crews from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and the United States, join one of the most sophisticated and complex air and missile exercises ever undertaken in the UK.

Lasting a month, allies will work together to detect, track and shoot down both anti-ship and ballistic missile targets. 13 ships will fire on 12 live missile targets over four days, improving how allies work together in an air and missile defence environment.

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said:

“North Korean tests have shown the danger of rogue states developing longer range missiles. By hosting this cutting-edge exercise in anti-missile defence with allied navies Britain is at the forefront of developing a more effective response to this growing threat.”

Rear Admiral Paul Bennett, Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Capability) said:

“Formidable Shield is a terrific example of the leading role that the UK plays in development of maritime air and missile defence – protecting our people and working with our allies.”

Ahead of the exercise, the Ministry of Defence and QinetiQ recently invested £60 million into the Hebrides Range to modernise the equipment and facilities. A further £16.8 million will be invested in two new BAE Systems tracking radars, to be installed on St Kilda, and upgrade two existing radars at MOD Hebrides.

The new radars are part of the £95m Air Range Modernisation programme agreed in December 2016 with the UK MOD.

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Obviously with Sampson and our ground-based stuff we can contribute some good radars for the tracking but who apart from the USA has an ABM-capable missile? With the Aster ABM variant not a reality yet that rules out the RN and the French doesn’t it? Do any of the other participants apart from the USA have any ABM capability as far as a missile itself is concerned and, if so, then what?


I guess only South Korea and Japan – having bought THAAD.

Israel possibly.

Russia allegedly has some ABM defence around Moscow but that is likely to be ancient.

China – who knows.

John Pattullo

russian system is probably the s-400 system which is a very capable abm system – and i believe they are developing the s-500 now to be even better


The Danish ship De Ruyter will be passing targeting data to the US ships.


Why does it take 5 years to bring these missiles into reality when there is an urgent operational requirement? I know defense contracts love to stretch out projects during peace time but pretty sure when there is sufficient motivation the missiles could be produced and ready for testing in months rather than years.


Air threat warning white buddy. No pressure on industry, yet.


Britain ‘assists’ in the way the flower girl ‘assists’ a wedding.

Everyone is happy to see her there and she thinks she’s a part of it, but in reality she is not an important part of the process.

Britain may pass on some information for Daddy to actually do the shooting


There will be standard cruise missile targets there as well. So they’ll probably shoot at those and see if they can do so with target info from the French maybe.

Ben P

The type 45 does not have cruise missiles.

Ben P

I misunderstood your comment. Cruise missile targets for Aster to shoot down makes sense.

geoffrey james roach

Sarcasm never won fair maiden. If you have nothing useful to say……..


The T45 will be shooting at the cruise missile targets with its Aster 15 and 30 missiles.


Are there any Type 23 frigates contributing and if so in what role?

Johnny English

Strategically positioned around Trump’s golf course.

Kevin Banks

Clever words. Ballistic missile is maybe technically correct, but to the casual reader, it will suggest, ICBM, IRBM. My catapult as a child, was ballistic, by virtue of the physics of how it worked. It is not much more than a glorified IT exercise, with a few live firings & tracking. At least we used to do it for real, back in the 70’s. The thing is, the threats are probably greater now, than from the Soviets, but we shrink the military so we can hand out benefits to unwilling workers & uninvited visitors to our country.

Daniele Mandelli

Bang on.