HMS Defender Demonstrates Capability On Exercise Formidable Shield

Posted on May 21, 2019

Blasting from the Type 45 destroyer’s silo, the missile flew four times the speed of sound before obliterating an incoming drone target designed to simulate a projectile attack on the ship. It marks the first time HMS Defender has taken on this particular type of target – one that is significantly more challenging as it flies faster and lower than others before it.

The missile firing took place as part of NATO’s Exercise Formidable Shield.

The ship’s Senior Warfare Officer, Lieutenant Commander Daniel Lee, said: “Being a part of our first firing against a fast-moving, low-level target has been a really rewarding experience.”

Sea Viper is the name given to the combination of the Sampson radar system – the spinning spiked ball on top of a Type 45 destroyer’s main mast, and the Aster missile system which sits in a silo on the ship’s forecastle.

It tracks aircraft and other objects across thousands of cubic miles of airspace, identifies threats, and destroys them when necessary.

These were all put to the test during Exercise Formidable Shield, with almost every nation involved firing missiles throughout the 10-day exercise.

Equipped with a Wildcat helicopter from Yeovilton-based 815 Naval Air Squadron, Sampson radar and the Sea Viper missile system, HMS Defender was exercising alongside nine other navies at the Hebrides range in Scotland. Led by the US Navy’s 6th Fleet, the exercise was the largest of its type with 13 ships, more than 10 aircraft and in excess of 3,300 personnel taking part.

Lieutenant Commander Ben Shirley, HMS Defender’s Weapon Engineer Officer, said: “Operating with a number of our allies has given us a fantastic opportunity to witness other nations’ missile defence systems.”

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