NATO Ships Hold Missile Defense Drill Near Scotland, US DOD Says

October 16, 2017 Updated: October 16, 2017

Warships from eight NATO countries participated in live-fire self-defense exercises of ship and missile systems near Scotland on Sunday, Oct. 15, the U.S. Department of Defense said.

Ships from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States defended against a medium-range missile as well as three anti-ship cruise missiles.

The USS Donald Cook successfully intercepted a medium-range missile with a Standard Missile-3 Block IB guided missile during the exercise, the Pentagon said, Reuters reported.

Three anti-ship cruise missiles were fired upon by Spanish and Dutch ships participating in the Formidable Shield exercises in the U.K. Ministry of Defense’s Hebrides Range located on the Western Isles of Scotland.


The U.S. Department of Defense said this was the first time NATO’s “smart defense” concept was demonstrated with some ships providing protection to other vessels targeting ballistic missiles.

The Formidable Shield exercise began on Sept. 24 and is scheduled to conclude on Wednesday, Oct.18.

The Pentagon said the exercise is planned to be a biennial event and is designed to assure allies, deter adversaries, and demonstrate U.S. commitment to collective defense of the NATO alliance.

Following the NATO exercises, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency successfully test-fired a Standard Missile-6 (SM-6) from the USS McFaul.

The SM-6 test was not part of the Formidable Shield exercise, the Pentagon said.

“During the collective self-defense scenario, the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG-75) successfully detected, tracked and intercepted a medium-range ballistic missile target with a Standard Missile-3 Block IB guided missile,” according to a news release from the Missile Defense Agency on Oct. 15.

It added: “Simultaneously, the Spanish frigate SPS Alvaro de Bazan (F101) fired an Evolved SeaSparrow Missile (ESSM) against an incoming anti-ship cruise missile, while the Netherlands frigate HNLMS Tromp (F803) fired ESSMs against a pair of incoming anti-ship cruise missiles. This was the first time NATO’s smart defense concept was demonstrated with ships serving as air defense units protecting naval ballistic missile defense units.”

“Formidable Shield is, as the name already implies, a formidable setup for both testing architectural constructs to TDL (tactical data link) and for the conduct of operational decision-making of the complex environment of Integrated Air and Missile Defense,” Cmdr. Peter Jansberg, a spokesman, said in the release. “As such, Formidable Shield demonstrates the necessity of constantly maintaining and sustaining a Joint Operational Air picture, so all nations have the ability to act and operate from the same hymn sheet. This making the decision line as short as possible, and the room for error minimal.”

 Reuters contributed to this report.