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German Navy set for important test at annual missile firing exercise

German frigate Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
Photo: German Navy

Two different classes of German Navy frigates have gotten underway for the start of the service’s annual missile firing exercise that traditionally takes place at the Andoya testing range just below the Arctic Circle off the Norwegian coast.

In addition to Bremen-class frigate FGS Lübeck and Brandenburg-class frigate FGS Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, the drill will be joined by K130 corvette FGS Erfurt and a Norwegian Fridtjof Nansen-class frigate.

The task group will be accompanied by the experimentation and support vessel Helmsand that is operated by the WTD 71 Bundeswehr Technical Center for Ships and Naval Weapons.

The ships will spend a week at the testing range, launching anti-ship and anti-air missiles before returning home to Wilhelmshaven at the end of September. They will also hone skills in Naval Gunfire Support, practicing hitting targets on land.

What is more, this iteration of the exercise will see FGS Mecklenburg-Vorpommern fire a live AGM-84 Harpoon missile for the first time. The milestone comes after another F123 frigate, the FGS Schleswig-Holstein, became the first to perform two successful Harpoon test launches in 2019. The Harpoon will be replacing the MM38 Exocet missile currently employed by German F123 frigates.

The missile firing exercise is an important part of the verification of all weapon systems employed by the ships. Proving that such maneuvers are anything but routine is the 2018 accident that happened aboard air-defense frigate FGS Sachsen, when an SM-2 Block IIIA missile exploded before exiting the ship’s vertical launch system.