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Croatia hosts US Army, NATO allies for air defense maneuver

Photo: Dvids

Croatia has hosted a group of US Army’s 173rd Airborne Brigade paratroopers, known as “Sky Soldiers,” and other NATO allies for its Exercise Shield 23 annual air defense exercise.

Units from the United States, Croatia, Poland, and Slovenia participated in the exercise, which focused on enhancing the execution of air defense tactics against low and medium altitude moving aerial threats.

Held in Pula from April 19 through 21, the exercise saw participants train on air defense and electronic warfare tactics, including air-space control, synchronization, surveillance, threat detection, and live fire engagements against flying objects.

By combining multiple air defense platforms in the same area of operations, the exercise was aimed to enhance air defense interoperability among NATO allies.

“The relationship we have built with the Croatians is of great importance to our collective security. Through allied training and collaboration, we have developed a strong partnership. The Croatians have demonstrated their dedication and professionalism, and we look forward to continuing our partnership with them for years to come.” said Mitchel Hess, the air defense officer of the 173rd Airborne, who has attended the previous two Shield exercises.

Croatian Army 2nd lt. Jure Brkic said “From the initial planning to final planning, we had a lot of brainstorming of ideas for training. And of course, the relationship between allies is important in many ways. Such as getting familiar with different doctrines, problem solving, interoperability and learning new weapon systems.”

Each participating country brought a different air defense platform to the training area and utilized basic drones and flares to simulate detecting and engaging enemy targets.

The Sky Soldiers brought Dronebuster 3Bs, while the Croatian air defense used the QR-07S3 drone jammer system. Notably, the Polish air defenders brought their Piorun portable anti-aircraft missile system, also known as the “Thunderbolt,” and showcased two live missile launches.