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05 26 2023

NCI Agency experts enable Allied interoperability during NATO exercise

For the fifth consecutive time, experts from the NATO Communication and Information (NCI) Agency contributed to the success of NATO exercise Formidable Shield.

From 8 May to 26 May 2023, ships, aircraft and ground forces from 13 NATO and Partner nations converged in the High North and the North Atlantic Ocean with one goal in mind: to ensure interoperability during operations.

Exercise Formidable Shield is the biennial Integrated Air and Missile Defence (IAMD) exercise organized by the United States 6th Fleet and Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO). The exercise ensures that NATO Allies and Partners can work together in a live-fire joint and combined integrated air and missile defence environment using NATO command and control structures.

NCI Agency experts enable allied interoperability during NATO exercise.

Images sourced from the United States Naval Forces Europe and Africa

Over 60 NCI Agency experts supported the United States 6th Fleet in planning, preparing and executing the exercise mission configuration and coordinating national access to NATO core, functional and tactical data exchange services with Formidable Shield participating nations.

"The communication services we deliver for exercise Formidable Shield enable Allies to test and improve their operational procedures so that they are mission ready when the time comes," explained Sibe Wassenaar, Principal Integration and Test Engineer at the NCI Agency. "The network we provide is used to exchange information between various platforms, such as land sites, aircraft, and ships, during the exercise. The network is essential to maintain situational awareness, range safety and exercise command and control activities."

NCI Agency experts built and maintained the communication information systems architecture for the exercise, ensuring that Allied forces could communicate seamlessly with one another.

The Agency also delivered critical command and control technology as part of NATO's Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) Programme for the exercise. A centralized hub used for distributing information with respect to interceptors, sensors and data from individual Allied command and control systems is accessible to all Allies in the BMD Programme; however, they require help to access the data.

During Formidable Shield, the Agency provided participating Nations that access, and the capability delivered by the Agency allowed Nations to exchange seamlessly data through permanent BMD Gateways during operations.

Throughout the exercise, Agency experts were available for immediate support at all levels for arising technical and interoperability issues.

The Agency's participation in exercises like Formidable Shield provides essential insight useful for NATO capability development. The data collected during the exercise will be analyzed and leveraged for improvements to general NATO infrastructure and future iterations of this exercise.