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U.S. Navy, NATO begin missile exercises off Scottish coast

The British Royal Navy destroyer HMS Dragon is one of 15 vessels from 10 navies participating in a NATO air and missile defense exercise this week. Photo courtesy of British Royal Navy
The British Royal Navy destroyer HMS Dragon is one of 15 vessels from 10 navies participating in a NATO air and missile defense exercise this week. Photo courtesy of British Royal Navy

May 17 (UPI) -- Navy vessels from 10 nations, including the United States, are massed off the Scottish coast for a NATO interoperability exercise to include live missile fire, the U.S. Navy said on Monday.

The three-week integrated air and sea missile defense exercise involves over 3,000 personnel, and began on Saturday in the British Defense Ministry's Hebrides Range in western Scotland.

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Led by the U.S. Navy's Sixth Fleet for STRIKFORNATO, NATO's Naval Striking and Support Forces command, it is an extension of an exercise underway off the coast of Portugal known as Exercise At-Sea Demo/Formidable Shield 2021.

Participating nations include Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Britain and the United States.

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In one planned demonstration, the British destroyer HMS Dragon will be challenged with intercepting a Firejet target drone weaving 20 feet above the sea at 400 mph.

Standard Missile-2, Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles, Aster 15, and Aster 30 missiles will be used against various targets, including subsonic Banshee, Mirach and Firejet targets and ground-launched supersonic drone targets, the Navy said.

British ships will also test new software designed to seek out potential threats, reducing the burden on personnel.

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"Fifteen ships from ten nations will track and engage subsonic, supersonic, and ballistic missile targets on and above the Hebrides and And√łya Space Defense Ranges," commander Capt. Jonathan Lipps said.

"STRIKFORNATO's IAMD [integrated air and missile defense] staff will also direct and authorize maritime Harpoon firing units and a United States Marine Corps High Mobility Artillery Rocket System firing against a target at sea," Lipps said.

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