Home Europe US submarine hunters launch Harpoon missiles in Europe for first time

US submarine hunters launch Harpoon missiles in Europe for first time

P-8A Poseidon Harpoon launch
P-8A Poseidons launched two Harpoon missiles at a target barge off the coast of Norway during exercise Formidable Shield. Photo: US Navy

P-8A Poseidon anti-submarine warfare and maritime patrol aircraft from Patrol Squadron FOUR (VP-4) successfully performed a coordinated missile launch with VP-40 using two AGM-84D Harpoon missiles against a target barge off the coast of Norway.

The launch during exercise Formidable Shield 2021 marked the first use of Harpoon missiles by P-8A Poseidons in the European theater.

“Having multinational allies, with whom we are capable of integrating seamlessly within the air and maritime domains, is critical to our strategic and operational objectives in the North Atlantic,” said Cmdr. Johnny Harkins, VP-4 commanding officer. “Our combat aircrews demonstrated their expertise using the P-8A to enhance the common operating picture in support of multi-unit strike operations.”

The AGM-84D gives the Poseidon the ability to challenge enemy naval movements, either in support of offensive operations or in order to defend friendly forces. VP-4 supported At-Sea Demo/Formidable Shield by employing three Poseidon aircraft to ensure the safety of military and civilian ships and aircraft.

“At-Sea Demo/Formidable Shield showcased the collaborative approach required to effectively conduct coordinated engagements as well as defeat ballistic missile threats,” said Lt. Ted Diamond, VP-4 ASD/FS action officer. “Having multiple opportunities to work with our NATO allies enables us to dominate the battlespace and continually improve interoperability for future operations.”

Throughout the exercise, NATO forces conducted live engagements with Driven Ammunition Reduced Time of flight (DART) munitions, Standard Missile-2, Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles (ESSM), Aster 15, and Aster 30 missiles against various targets, including subsonic Banshee, Mirach, and Firejet targets and ground-launched supersonic drone (GQM-163A) targets. Additionally, ballistic missile defense tests with Standard Missile-3 launches were conducted.

At-Sea Demonstration is a recurring live maritime exercise planned and supported by the Maritime Theater Missile Defense Forum (MTMD-F), a coalition of twelve nations with a focus on improving interoperability and force capabilities in maritime missile defense.

Formidable Shield is a biennial training exercise led by US Sixth Fleet and conducted by Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO which aims to improve allied interoperability in a live-fire, integrated air and missile defense (IAMD) environment using NATO command and control reporting structures.