Home Americas Dutch frigate cues US destroyer’s SM-3 interceptor in ballistic missile test

Dutch frigate cues US destroyer’s SM-3 interceptor in ballistic missile test

SM-3 launch
USS Paul Ignatius (DDG 117) launches an SM-3 during a live-fire exercise during exercise At-Sea Demo/Formidable Shield, May 30, 2021. Photo: US Navy

US Navy destroyer USS Paul Ignatius (DDG 117) fired two Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) interceptors to engage ballistic missile targets launched from the Hebrides Range as part of the At-Sea-Demo/Formidable Shield 2021 exercise.

The tests on May 26 and May 30 demonstrated what the US Navy described as a groundbreaking cooperative engagement.

To be more precise, the Royal Netherlands Navy’s HNLMS De Zeven Provincien (F802) air defense frigate employed its advanced combat system suite to provide an early warning ballistic track to the maritime task group. Upon receipt of this track information, Paul Ignatius was able calculate a firing solution to launch an SM-3 Blk IA and negate the threat.

USS Paul Ignatius used data from the SMART-L MM/N long range surveillance radar onboard the Dutch frigate to conduct a “launch on remote” test of a Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) and guide it to intercept a non-separating ballistic missile well outside the earth’s atmosphere.

The SMART-L MM/N radar tracked the ballistic missile for more than 5 minutes as it reached speeds of 3 km/second and an altitude of more than 300 km. USS Paul Ignatius received the tracking data through the NATO communications network.

A video shared by the Dutch defense ministry illustrates the process.

“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 (STRIKFORNATO),” said Commander Task Group, Integrated Air and Missile Defense, Capt. Jonathan D. Lipps.

“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 added.

The At-Sea Demonstration within At-Sea Demo/Formidable Shield 21 originates from the partnership with the Maritime Theater Missile Defense Forum (MTMD-F). MTMD-F activities are important enablers of NATO Ballistic Missile Defense. The Forum is a global partnership focused on coalition capability and interoperability for Maritime Integrated Air and Missile Defense.

Other tests carried out during the drill include the first launch of an Aster 30 missile by the French destroyer FS Forbin, while Royal Navy destroyer HMS Dragon (D35) launched a Sea Viper missile in addition to testing artificial intelligence for defense against live missiles for the first time.

Bringing together ships, aircraft, ground assets and deployed staff from ten nations, including Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States, allows participants to learn from each other and strengthen relationships with Allies and Partners in the region.

MTMD-F worked closely with STRIKFORNATO in developing a plan for data collection and analysis which supported the operational forces’ technical capability development.

“From the ocean depths to low earth orbit, STRIKFORNATO defends the Alliance across all domains and against all those who might threaten its integrity and conviction,” Lipps said.