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10 24 2017

Connecting Forces in Formidable Shield 2017

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.

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 Integrated Air and Missile Defence (IAMD) context: Spain's frigate and the Dutch Tromp frigate were simultaneously engaging three anti-ship cruise missile targets.

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 systems supported by the Agency: 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.

NCI Agency's Essential Contributions

Following more than a year of planning and technical integration, the Agency provided support for the exercise by leveraging expertise across the organisation, 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 on 8 November this year, and plans for the 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 website.