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06 2 2021

NATO Agency plays crucial role in major live-fire air and missile defence exercise

The NATO Communications and Information Agency (NCI Agency) is supporting ships and aircraft from ten NATO Nations taking part in live-fire air and missile defence drills.

Exercise Formidable Shield 2021 takes place from 15 May to 3 June. The exercise is designed to demonstrate that Allied maritime power can be rapidly deployed to provide an immediate response to any emerging threats, such as those posed by ballistic missiles.

NATO Agency plays crucial role in major live-fire air and missile defence exercise

Thousands of personnel, 15 ships and dozens of aircraft are taking part in this year's exercise. Participating Nations include Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, United Kingdom and the United States.

The NCI Agency is playing a crucial role in making this exercise a success. NCI Agency experts are working around the clock to build and maintain the networks for Allies to connect with each other.

"As an old saying states, 'there can be no command without connection', so fulfilling the requirements of our NATO Allies and enabling them to connect to mission networks is our top priority," said Captain Olga Gazarkova, Deputy Branch Head of Air Operations Branch at the NCI Agency's CIS Support Unit (CSU) in Ramstein, Germany. The CSU supports NATO Allied Air Command.

Allies use mission networks to share critical information, from radar pictures to communications for command and control beyond the line of sight.

"The value of many people behind the scenes is sometimes underestimated, including the CIS Support Units on site, or the network engineers working from their back offices. I greatly appreciate their dedication and persistence to reach the mission success we have seen leading up to and including Exercise Formidable Shield," said Sibe Wassenaar, Project Lead, NCI Agency.

During Exercise Formidable Shield, the NCI Agency also provides technology for NATO's Ballistic Missile Defence capability.

NATO's Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) Programme delivers the software that NATO needs to share information and work together to protect NATO European populations, territories and forces against a ballistic missile threat or attack.

The Programme works with the participation of the Allies, who volunteer interceptors and sensors, as well as information from their command and control systems. The NCI Agency provides the critical NATO battle management command and control technology, or "glue," that connects them. The BMD Programme enables NATO Nations to act as a single unit when responding to a ballistic missile threat or attack, which requires very quick and coordinated action.

This capability is put to the test during Exercise Formidable Shield. NCI Agency experts support USA 6th Fleet, the exercise lead, in integrating the participating national ships and sites into the Ballistic Missile Defence capability.

"The communication services that we deliver for Exercise Formidable Shield enable Allies to test and improve their operational procedures. The networks that we build and sustain demonstrate the benefits of new technologies, in a realistic environment, during this exercise," said Christophe Le Devehat, Technical Test Lead, NCI Agency.