The NCI Agency recently completed support for Exercise Formidable Shield 2017, a 24-day multinational live fire Integrated Air and Missile Defence exercise conducted in the North Atlantic. Spearheaded by an Air Missile Defence Command and Control project team under funding from the US Navy, elements from across the Agency provided essential support connecting forces during exercise integration and execution. This support allowed NATO naval forces to focus on exercising weapons and tactics in a realistic environment.
USS Donald Cook engages the Terrier Oriole ballistic missile target with SM-3 Block 1B interceptor
The NCI Agency validated the latest NATO Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) architecture while leveraging the rare opportunity to observe a cooperative live BMD engagement involving Dutch and American ships. After the Dutch De Ruyter frigate provided an initial track on the ballistic missile target, the USS Donald Cook engaged and destroyed it with a SM-3 interceptor. This premier event occurred in a unique IAMD context: simultaneously Spain's frigate and the Dutch Tromp frigate were engaging three anti-ship cruise missile targets.
HMCS Montreal and HNLMS De Ruyter
Besides the primary BMD intercept, three other FS 17 events provided participating NATO nations with opportunities to engage subsonic and supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles with live interceptors.
Nations contributed more than 14 ships, 10 aircraft and approximately 3,300 personnel from Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, United Kingdom and the United States. Headquarters Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO) conducted FS 17 on behalf of the US 6th Fleet. HQ Air Command (AIRCOM), HQ Maritime Command (MARCOM) and STRIKFORNATO followed the event using Agency' supported systems: Air Command and Control System, Air Command Control and Information Services, Integrated Command and Control System (ICC) and LSID.
FS17 Lessons Learned
As with any complex venture, the path to success in Formidable Shield presented many challenges and identified various lessons.
With stiff requirements for near-real-time communications, one clear lesson was that a stable and consistent tactical chat architecture is essential. The FS 17 Joint Interface Control Officer required continuous chat service to the link operators on every ship. His "No chat, no JREAP" dictate motivated the ships to maintain responsive chat services or risk having their JREAP data link to the exercise turned off.
Aboard the USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81)
NCI Agency's Essential Contributions
Culminating more than a year of planning and technical integration, NCI Agency provided support for the exercise by leveraging expertise across the Agency and among the nations to ensure a stable exercise architecture. Support came from across almost every Agency directorate and Service Line: BMD Integration Test Bed, the Centralised Service Desk, the Mission Services Support Group, Customer Support Units.
Formidable Shield 2019
The next IAMD live fire events are already on the horizon. FS 19 planning begins 8 November this year and plans for an At Sea Demonstration 2020 event may include both maritime and land-based IAMD engagements. As these events approach, AMDC2 will work hard to incorporate FS 17 lessons into our documented processes.
Photos from US Navy Sixth Fleet web site.