June 1 (UPI) -- The USS Paul Ignatius fired two Standard Missile-3 interceptors at the end of May in order to engage ballistic missile targets launched from the Hebrides Guided Weapon Range off the west coast of Scotland, the Navy announced on Tuesday.
The test was carried out as part of a cooperative engagement with the Royal Netherlands Navy, which used its advanced combat system suite to warn the maritime task group of a threat -- allowing the Ignatius to fire missiles and negate it, officials said.
"Today marks the dawn of a new day for maritime Ballistic Missile Defense and the seamless integration of combatant capability provided by the international naval forces of Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO," Capt. Jonathan D. Lipps, Commander of Task Group, Integrated Air and Missile Defense, said in the Navy's press release.
Defending against ballistic missiles requires complex tracking ability and kinetic power, akin to hitting a bullet with a bullet, the Navy said.
Because of that complexity, NATO allies need to be able to track missiles and share fire control data, and May's exercise demonstrates that allies can be integrated into missile defense, which "was previously a capability singularly shouldered by the United States."
"This landmark achievement demonstrated by De Zeven Provincien and Paul Ignatius represents the relevance and resolve of NATO maritime capabilities deployed against a modern, credible threat," Lipps said.
The test was part of the At-Sea Demo/Formidable Shield 21, which originates from the Maritime Theater Missile Defense Forum -- a global partnership focused on coalition interoperability.
The MTMDF brings together ships, aircraft and other assets and staff from 10 countries, including Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Britain and the United States.