QinetiQ has successfully delivered three firsts during one of the world’s largest tests of naval and missile defences, Formidable Shield 23. These included the first launch of UK/US funded guided ballistic missile defence (BMD) target, the IAMD-T; the first attempted tracking of a BMD target in the terminal phase by a Typhoon; and the first engagement of a subsonic target by a UK Typhoon, cued by a Type 45 destroyer with an air-launch missile.

Hosted over three weeks at MOD Hebrides, operated by QinetiQ on behalf of the Ministry of Defence, the exercise saw more than 20 ships, 35 aircraft, and nearly 4,000 Allied military personnel from 13 NATO nations come together to test missiles, systems, sensors and software against ballistic, subsonic and supersonic targets in a realistic, live-fire mission rehearsal event.

The exercise took 13 NATO nations’ forces around Andøya, Norway, before moving to MOD Hebrides. The forces countered a series of subsonic and supersonic targets within a 1,000 nautical mile area in the Atlantic Ocean, highlighting how integration between platforms and nations can prove to be critically advantageous within a battlespace. This year’s exercise saw true integration across a multi-domain landscape with participation from land, naval and air forces, providing an opportunity to work together in a realistic ‘train as you fight’ environment.

Threats launched from multiple locations, each with unique capabilities, designed to post realistic challenges to the multinational force and were successfully intercepted and countered in an integrated defence response.

QinetiQ supported the delivery of the exercise, ensuring the provision of extensive logistical, test and evaluation (T&E) support and responsibility for the safety planning. It also launched a number of Targeting Systems, including the Banshee Jet80+, providing participants with the opportunity to demonstrate interoperability in IAMD (Integrated Air and Missile Defence) scenarios with ballistic missiles, supersonic sea skimming missiles, and aggressor jets.

U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Alisha Hamilton, the Formidable Shield Mission Director in the Hebrides said: “We were extremely pleased with this year’s event and the overarching outcomes. FS has evolved significantly over the last eight years and now focuses on the importance of interoperability between nations and domains to provide a realistic battlespace and scenarios for training and mission-rehearsal. One of the targets launched this year was a supersonic target at two and a half times the speed of sound. Three different nations successfully engaged in quick succession against that threat, critically testing systems that need to react within milliseconds. For those reasons events such as this are vital and truly demonstrate the battle-winning edge of effective collaboration between NATO forces.”