Formidable Shield 2021: Standing together at a critical moment

Raytheon Missiles & Defense will demonstrate capabilities and collaboration at this biannual international exercise

The world has changed since Raytheon Missiles & Defense took part in Formidable Shield 2019. In May that year, the United States and eight other countries gathered for this major NATO exercise where they showed how their missile defense systems work together. And, since 2019, the allied militaries have continued to function fully, consistently proving the reliability and interoperability of their technologies. 

But two years ago, few people foresaw the COVID-19 virus that would affect the entire world. Now, amid hopes of an end to the pandemic in sight, the NATO allies’ enduring spirit of cooperation imbues Formidable Shield with even deeper significance, reinforcing their shared mission to stand together. 

“We are more innovative, timely and effective when we come together with our international partners for a collective defense,” said Wes Kremer, president of Raytheon Missiles & Defense, a business of Raytheon Technologies. “Formidable Shield 2021 represents an opportunity to demonstrate the interoperability we have built with our NATO allies over decades.”

With that goal in mind, 10 nations will unite for integrated air and missile defense engagements from May 15 through June 3: the U.S., Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and the U.K.

U.S. Navy ships in formation at sea. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

Ships steam in formation during exercise Formidable Shield 19. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

What you should know about Formidable Shield 2021:

  • The international exercise, organized by the U.S. Navy’s Sixth Fleet, is conducted across a huge area in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Scotland, using live and simulated targets.
  • Participating nations deploy sensors, effectors, radars and interceptors to strengthen collective defense and exhibit the interoperability and integration of allied missile defense systems.
  • The allied navies coordinate intercepts of targets both outside the atmosphere (exoatmospheric) and within the atmosphere (endoatmospheric) using Standard Missiles: SM-3 Block IA, SM-3 Block IB, SM-2 Block IIIA, SM-2 Block IIIB and SM-6 interceptors.
  • It is the fourth Formidable Shield exercise; the previous two were held in 2017 and 2019.

What Raytheon Missiles & Defense is bringing to Formidable Shield 2021: 

The company’s following capabilities will demonstrate ongoing expansion of integrated air and missile defense capabilities in both sensors and effectors:  

  • SM-3: an interceptor that destroys incoming ballistic missile targets.
  • SM-2: an interceptor that destroys incoming cruise missile and air targets.
  • SM-6: an interceptor that destroys incoming ballistic missile targets in the terminal phase, air targets and naval surface targets.
  • Upgraded Early Warning Radar: a radar that provides early warning and detects and tracks incoming ballistic missile targets.

“Technologically advanced systems and robust international partnerships are essential to America’s security at home and abroad,” Kremer said. “Exercises like Formidable Shield are critical to improving our interoperability and enhancing our readiness.”

The SM-6 missile launches into a night sky. (Photo: Missile Defense Agency)

In a previous exercise, an SM-6 missile fired from the guided missile destroyer USS John Paul Jones intercepts a medium-range ballistic missile target. (Photo: Missile Defense Agency)

Formidable Shield 2021 will also address and help to resolve technological challenges, such as the integration of command-and-control networks and communications systems. And, the exercise will again bolster the participating nations’ alliance, while enabling sharing and empowering their navies’ proficiency at sea.

“A multi-national approach to the engagement of evolving threats is essential. Sensors and effectors must be distributed across allied countries and coordinated to protect all, building on the current NATO infrastructure,” said Bryan Rosselli, vice president of Strategic Missile Defense at Raytheon Missiles and Defense. “Solutions have to be flexible and readily upgradeable, built on the latest technology to maintain collective defense.”