French Horizon Air Defense Destroyer Intercepts Supersonic Target

Around 15 Allied ships and 3,300 military personnel participated in the training.

The French Navy announced Wednesday on Twitter that one of its air-defense destroyers intercepted a supersonic target during a military exercise at sea.

During Exercise At-Sea Demo/Formidable Shield 2021, the Marine Nationale’s Horizon-class Air Defense Destroyer Forbin intercepted one supersonic target, flying at more than 3,000 km/h (1,864 mi/h), using an MBDA Aster 30 surface-to-air missile.

The target was likely a GQM-163A Coyote Sea Skimming Target Vehicle, Naval News reported.

“France thus confirms the modernity and excellence of its maritime resources in the field of air defense. It also proves its ability to interact within an international maritime force in order to ensure joint defense against supersonic and ballistic missiles,” the French Navy posted on its website.

The French frigate Forbin has been participating in the exercises since May 15. Around 15 Allied ships and 3,300 military personnel participated in the training. Anti-aircraft and anti-missile combat capabilities were tested through the live firing of various targets.

The Forbin

The French destroyer Forbin is the lead ship of the Horizon-class frigates. It is a large anti-air defense ship built to protect aircraft carriers, capital ships, and civilian ships from supersonic missile attacks. 

The ship is 152 m (501 ft.) long and weighs around 7,050 tons, with a speed of 18-29 knots (33-54 km/h or 21-33 mph).

The Forbin can be equipped with eight MM-40-EXOCET B3 anti-ship missiles and one PAAMS anti-missile surface-to-air system using Aster 15 and Aster 30 missiles.

Exercise At-Sea Demo/Formidable Shield 2021

The At-Sea Demo/Formidable Shield 21 is an event organized by the US 6th Fleet and led by the operational staff STRIKEFORNATO. 

Using NATO command and control reporting structures, the exercise aims to improve the interoperability of the NATO Alliance in a joint live-fire, Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) environment.

The event kicked off on May 15 at the UK Ministry of Defence Hebrides Range near the Western Isles of Scotland. It is expected to end on June 3, 2021.

US Participation

The US Navy also announced yesterday the participation of its Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Roosevelt (DDG 80) in the exercise.

During a flag-hoist drill with ships from Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, Germany, Norway, Denmark, and the Netherlands, ships communicated randomized messages using international flag signals.

“Though At-Sea Demo/Formidable Shield 21 features live-fire exercises as the main event, the force has been able to incorporate additional interoperability-enhancing drills such as flag hoist,” said Cmdr. Ryan Kendall, Roosevelt’s commanding officer.

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