15 ships, more than 10 aircraft, and approximately 3,300 personnel are participating in Exercise Formidable Shield this year.

Three Royal Navy warships will join their NATO allies in what is being described as the world’s largest test of naval air and missile defences.

Formidable Shield is a U.S. Sixth Fleet-led exercise, conducted by Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO), in which NATO allies are the participants.

The Spanish Álvaro de Bazán-class frigate ESPS Cristóbal Colón (F-105) is this year’s designated flagship for the execution of the Formidable Shield 2021 exercise, scheduled to take place May 15th to June 3rd.

According to a Royal Navy news release, played out off Scotland’s Outer Hebrides and Norway’s Arctic coast, the three-week-long Formidable Shield 2021 will test missile systems, sensors, software – and the hundreds of men and women operating them as they demonstrate their ability to deal with the latest aerial threats.

“It will see live missile launches as the NATO allies demonstrate their individual and collective ability to track, identify and ultimately destroy incoming threats in the skies, including testing ballistic missile defence. HMS Dragon leads the Royal Navy’s participation as a dedicated air defence destroyer designed to shield a task group with her Sea Viper missile system.

Using her Sampson radar – the spinning ‘spiked egg’ atop her main mast – the Portsmouth-based warship has the ability to detect and follow a missile’s progress from launch to ‘splash’ (when it is destroyed). She’s joined by frigates HMS Lancaster and Argyll, whose Sea Ceptor systems also provide shorter range defence against incoming missiles and aircraft.

Both systems will be tested against supersonic high-diving targets plummeting towards the task group at speeds in excess of 12,000mph – 16 times the speed of sound – as well as sea-skimming drones simulating missiles, weaving at high sub-sonic speeds in a bid to outfox the radars tracking them. The highlight for the Royal Navy will be one of Dragon’s Sea Viper missiles intercepting a Firejet target drone, racing over the Atlantic at more than 400mph but just 20ft above the waves.”

The exercise is intended to assure allies, deter adversaries, and demonstrate the commitment of NATO to collective defence.

“Delivering integrated air and missile defence, and specifically ballistic missile defence, is one of STRIKFORNATO’s primary roles on behalf of the Alliance,” said Rear Admiral James Morley, the British Deputy Commander of STRIKFORNATO.

“Formidable Shield 21 is an important opportunity to further develop fighting capability and domain integration against a challenging set of realistic targets – a demonstration of our resolve to counter the threat.”

Royal Navy joins NATO’s major missile test off Scotland (mod.uk)

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Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
1 month ago

Will be interesting to see what capacity they display to deal with 12,000 mph missiles, let’s hope the 400mph sea skimming ones are taken out mind.

geoff
geoff
1 month ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

12000 mph! 5 and a half kms per second😵 How does any missile deal with that. Any sea skimming is probably more accurate and more dangerous. Lets hope things have advanced since Sheffield!

Gavin Gordon
Gavin Gordon
1 month ago
Reply to  geoff

The basic idea is to plant your missile in front of it and await the crash, I believe.

peter wait
peter wait
1 month ago
Reply to  geoff

Think you would need large power generation and lasers, wonder how well it would deal with multiple hyper-sonic missiles .

Farouk
Farouk
1 month ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

Spy,
I read this the other week
US Navy Destroyers And Royal Navy Ships Use These Big Blow-Up Anti-Ship Missile Decoys
https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/26899/us-navy-destroyers-and-royal-navy-ships-use-these-big-blow-up-anti-ship-missile-decoys

Paul.P
Paul.P
1 month ago
Reply to  Farouk

I think these were invented by Patrick Magoohan. I saw them being tested off Portmeirion.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul.P

Aah beat me to it.

Paul.P
Paul.P
1 month ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

🙂 showing our age. Well, we are all covid prisoners now…

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
1 month ago
Reply to  Farouk

Yep… Started off as DLF 1 and is now on DLF 3. Missiles do lock on to them.
We laid down 2 x DLF 2s in the Hebridean Ranges. Fired 4 excocets… 3 left the containers and hit/over flew them. One stayed where it was and wouldn’t come out… Probably scared of the weather!

Sceptical Richard
Sceptical Richard
1 month ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

Are these towed behind the ships after inflating, or just float in position? If the latter, i would have thought that missile logic would reject a stationary target in favour of a moving one, however attractive…

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
1 month ago
Reply to  Farouk

Sounds like the first model was based on Rover from the Prisoner. Fascinating stuff.

Max Jones
Max Jones
1 month ago
Reply to  Farouk

Yeah, you can see them on the Type 23s on the superstructure on either side of the bridge in small torpedo-tube like launchers, just behind the harpoons.

TrevorH
TrevorH
1 month ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

How does such an absurd missile find and target it enemy

Sceptical Richard
Sceptical Richard
1 month ago
Reply to  TrevorH

I’ve asked this question a hundred times and no one has given me a satisfactory answer yet. The closest response has been the suggestion that after re-entry, such a missiles slows down to something like Mach 5 or thereabouts, when targeting and control systems can operate. But i remain sceptical about the whole thing, both the targeting and control as well as the shooting down by anything other than an endoatmospheric interceptor

Ethan
Ethan
1 month ago

Yes, Chinese and Russian hypersonic cruise and aeroballistic missiles will perform manoeuvres to bleed kinetic energy and speed, or the seeker will struggle to see through the superheated atmosphere around the missile. The other choice, particularly for ballistic missiles like the DF21 is to remain at maximum speed and rely on inertial guidance. This is typically only effective against ships when using a nuclear warhead as the CEP will be too great to reliably target ships. Theoretically, there also exists a speed where the leading edge of the missile will be coated in superheated plasma but the trailing edge will… Read more »

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
1 month ago
Reply to  Ethan

Having been an avid fan of Space X launches the data links of vehicles even at those moderate speeds seem somewhat iffy even with their latest Starlink on the latest assuming it was being used.

Netking
Netking
1 month ago

We’ve had an exchange in the past about this. I’ll try to find a few links that i’ve come across in the past that might shed some more light on the subject. There is an interview maybe last year where a top US military personnel stated that the heated plasma that many theorized would have an effect on the ability of these missiles to find their target was not an issue. I’ll look those links up and add them to the thread.

Sceptical Richard
Sceptical Richard
1 month ago
Reply to  Netking

That’s interesting

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago

I **guess** it is, as you previously posted, if I remember well, the targeting data is delivered by another vehicle broadcasting to the rear of the missile – so out of the plasma cone.

For Russian missiles, such as shipwreck, guiding each other in is not unknown. Although wether it ever actually worked on the Cold War versions is questionable.

Sceptical Richard
Sceptical Richard
1 month ago

Yeah, i suggested that method previously. But it’s complicated and unreliable i would have thought and i remain sceptical about this.

Netking
Netking
1 month ago

Might be behind a paywall but the fear of the plasma sheath affecting targeting has not martialized during testing apparently. https://www.flightglobal.com/fixed-wing/plasma-blackout-is-not-a-worry-for-usas-hypersonic-missiles-pentagon/138539.article It appears that the general idea is for hypersonic weapons to use offboard targeting data from other assets, long range radar, satellites, drones to put them within range of their onboard sensors which it then uses for the terminal phase of an attack. Of note, the US military first hypersonic weapon (LRHW) is on schedule to be operational in about 6 months. They recently revealed that it as a range of over 2775km. The USN is developing a variant… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Netking
Sceptical Richard
Sceptical Richard
1 month ago
Reply to  Netking

Thanks. Interesting. A hypersonic glide vehicle or scram jet flying at Mach 5 is one thing. Something re-entering the atmosphere at Mach 20 I think is another. I still think the latter would have severe issues unless slowed down significantly or, if not, carried a nuclear payload.

Netking
Netking
1 month ago

Agreed. There is still a lot of well placed skepticism surrounding hypersonic but the major militaries are acting like they are on to something.

Paul.P
Paul.P
1 month ago

I think it helps to remember the basics; that Mach 12 at very high altitudes is not 12x the speed of sound at sea level because the speed of sound is a function of the density of the medium, air. And that a hypersonic missile has to slow down otherwise it’s seeker will jammed by the ionised layer that it itself is creating. Once it slows down it becomes vulnerable to interception and spoofing. At the moment I think hypersonic missiles are best considered as tactical GPS guided
nuclear weapons for land targets. Just my take on things

Sceptical Richard
Sceptical Richard
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul.P

Agreed.

James Fennell
James Fennell
1 month ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

They are talking about an ABM capability. Already proven.

TrevorH
TrevorH
1 month ago

Off the British coast.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago

To be a fly on the wall for this…….would be ultra interesting.

Mind you I suspect that the Russians and the Chinese will be doing a lot of ‘fishing’ as close as they can get to the area! And various objects will be floated into the area to pick up ELINT. Oh, the game.

The Russians will also be flying around in their Bear ELINT contraptions. I’ve always wondered how much they can grab hold of.

Mind you we do exactly the same wherever we can……

duncan stayton
duncan stayton
1 month ago

Good to see, assume all systems working as they should..am worried about lack of ‘Harpoon’ replacement though..T45’s need this asset..also T23’s need CIWS- somebody is cutting costs which is stupid and short sighted as we learned in the Falklands..apart from anything else ( practical operational facility) the ‘soft-power’ display of capability speaks volumes in foreign ports. My humble opinion.

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
1 month ago
Reply to  duncan stayton

Hi Duncan. An interim anti ship missiles is being bought to replaceHarpoon from 2023, a number of options are being looked at. T23 has been in service for 32 years, and has survived without a CIWS. They are fitted with 2 x automated DS30M MK2’s

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

Some might say the 30mm cannons are better CIWS than Phalanx against some types of targets……

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
1 month ago

That is very true mate.

QuentinD63
QuentinD63
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

Hi Robert & Duncan, I wish they would get on and bring forward this interim ASM (and more than the “five sets”) as well as any Aster upgrades to finalise by year end. It’s always seems it’s due the next year of year after that. Our ships need to have more ASM and ABM ability now. There’s probably stuff going on behind the scenes…hopefully!? I agree on the T23 too, a phalanx or extra 8+ Camm down the side…somewhere. And Camm on the T45s. I’d also like to see some triple TLS’s on the T45s between the phalanx and radar… Read more »

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
1 month ago
Reply to  QuentinD63

Why do we need all these extra toys now? what’s the threat? We have intelligence on pretty much everything that is happening around the world. What makes you think we need upgraded Aster so soon? when it’s already a world beater. Where does the money come from? what tasks do we have to give up to send ships back into refit to fit all these toys?. It’s never a simple answer mate.

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
1 month ago
Reply to  QuentinD63

T23 never had CIWS with Sea Wolf. It had proven capability against sea skimming and high fast targets. Sea Ceptor is as good as Sea Wolf was so again a T23 doesn’t need a CIWS. Ok so lets examine where will the CIWS go …noting that there are only two realistic positions now that the 911 trackers have been removed . Bridge roof will have limited firing arcs due to the missile farm fwd and the mast behind which also has Scot mounted on it. On the hangar where the aft tracker was will have restricted firing arcs as its… Read more »

KPB
KPB
1 month ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

Terrific post.

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
1 month ago
Reply to  KPB

👍

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

Great post.

Totally agree.

Adding the wrong weapons system or adding a weapons system poorly could well be a higher threat than potential incoming.

Rob N
Rob N
1 month ago
Reply to  QuentinD63

The T44 has demonstrated an upgrade to track and intercept Ballistic missiles. The only difference between the ABM capable ASTER block 1 and the block o (the RN one), is a missile software update. Who is to say if this has not already been done on the quiet. This would give the same capability as the land based ASTER SAM.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob N

T45 has demonstrated the ability to track ABM missiles for sure using SAMPSON. That was in press releases. It is possible that the ASTER in service have been modded but I think it is unlikely as for reasons of deterrence the ability to shoot down NK or other rogue state missiles would have been widely publicised. Don’t get me wrong I do think that the UK should have a sovereign land based ability to destroy ABM’s. Note, I say land based as using ships for this does not make sense as they have to be doing figure of 8 manoeuvres… Read more »

ETH
ETH
1 month ago

The land based SAM Rob N is referring to is SAMP/T.

ETH
ETH
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob N

As of yet it has only demonstrated ability to track, not intercept. It has essentially been confirmed now that HMS Dragon will be test firing Aster against a ballistic target during ex Formidable Shield 21.

Block 1 has a new warhead in addition to software updates.

Col
Col
1 month ago

Any news on Dragonfire?

Steve Martin
Steve Martin
1 month ago
Reply to  Col

Some nice little tidbits in the link below, including their thinking on how to include something similar on Tempest.

https://www.c4isrnet.com/global/europe/2021/03/15/britains-dragonfire-ship-laser-gun-to-get-accuracy-boost/

Col
Col
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Martin

Cheers

AlexS
AlexS
1 month ago

Any ship list?

Sceptical Richard
Sceptical Richard
1 month ago
Reply to  Bob2

Nice looking ships. I really like the Italian version of FREMM

FILOSOFY
FILOSOFY
1 month ago

Spanish navy destroyer, Cristobal Colon, destroys supersonic sea skimming missile during Formidable Shield 21.

https://www.outono.net/elentir/2021/05/24/la-armada-espanola-dispara-por-primera-vez-un-misil-contra-la-mayor-amenaza-antibuque/