U.S. Sixth Fleet and STRIKEFORNATO to Kick Off Formidable Shield 2023

U.S. Sixth Fleet and Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO) will kick off exercise Formidable Shield 2023 from the High North and North Atlantic Ocean, May 8, 2023.

Formidable Shield demonstrates allied interoperability in a live-fire joint and combined Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) environment, using NATO command and control structures. The exercise takes place biennially, occurring during odd-numbered years. It will take place from May 8 to 26, and involves 13 NATO Allied and partner nations, more than 20 ships and 35 aircraft, eight ground units consisting of radars, National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS), and High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), and approximately 4,000 personnel from across the Alliance.

2 Formidable Shield 2023“Formidable Shield is the premier IAMD and live fire rehearsal in the European theater, and highlights STRIKFORNATO’s proficiency in seamlessly integrating Allied and partner maritime and air forces into combined operations,” said Royal Navy Rear Adm. James Morley, deputy commander, STRIKFORNATO and Officer In Charge (OIC) of the exercise. “The strength and unmatched cohesion of our trans-Atlantic Alliance, now at 31 members with the addition of our capable Finnish Allies, lies in our mutual commitment to one another and to the deterrence and defense of the Euro-Atlantic area. This commitment shines through in complex, high-end evolutions like Formidable Shield.”

Throughout Formidable Shield, Allied and partner forces will participate in a series of live-fire events against subsonic, supersonic, and ballistic targets, incorporating multiple Allied ships, ground forces, and aviation assets working across battlespaces to deliver effects and effectively accomplish exercise objectives. This Integrated Air and Missile event will also test 4th and 5th generation fighter aircraft capabilities, including the F-35, fielded by multiple Allied nations.

“NATO Allied and partner nations field the most advanced technologies and capabilities in the world, and live fire rehearsals like Formidable Shield provide an ideal venue to integrate and mature these capabilities across all domains,” said Capt. Jon Lipps, U.S. Sixth Fleet’s Commander, Task Force 64 and Officer in Tactical Control (OTC) during the exercise. “The early iterations of Formidable Shield focused on maritime Ballistic Missile Defense. Today, we integrate joint capability from the ocean bottom to low earth orbit and span all domains to provide for the Deterrence and Defense of the Euro-Atlantic. Formidable Shield is not merely an exercise, it is the Alliance seamlessly demonstrating credible, collective deterrence and defense across all domains.”

U.S. Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) and U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe (MARFOREUR), as well as personnel and units from numerous national commands and combined NATO staffs, including STRIKFORNATO, Maritime Command (MARCOM), Air Command (AIRCOM) and Joint Force Commands will join the exercise from throughout North America and Europe.

A multinational Commander, Task Group (CTG) IAMD will be embarked aboard the Spanish Álvaro de Bazán-class frigate ESPS Blas de Lezo (F 103), which will serve as the flagship for the exercise. Blas de Lezo and other surface ships will conduct port visits in the United Kingdom and Norway prior to exercise kickoff next week to receive commander’s guidance and make final preparations for the various events.

“Exercises like this prove that ‘Stronger Together’ is a true mark of how the NATO Alliance operates,” said Italian Navy Rear Adm. Marco Papi, STRIKFORNATO’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Operations. “These events demonstrate that the military partnerships of the NATO Alliance remain as robust and relevant as ever. We look forward to continuing to strengthen our capabilities and our relationships during Formidable Shield.”

STRIKFORNATO, headquartered in Oeiras, Portugal, is a rapidly deployable and scalable headquarters, under the operational command of SACEUR, capable of planning and executing full spectrum joint maritime operations including IAMD, primarily through integration of U.S. and other nation’s carrier and amphibious forces into NATO operations to provide assurance, deterrence, and collective defense for the Alliance.

For over 80 years, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa (NAVEUR-NAVAF) has forged strategic relationships with allies and partners, leveraging a foundation of shared values to preserve security and stability.

Headquartered in Naples, Italy, NAVEUR-NAVAF operates U.S. naval forces in the USEUCOM and USAFRICOM areas of responsibility. U.S. Sixth Fleet is permanently assigned to NAVEUR-NAVAF, and employs maritime forces through the full spectrum of joint and naval operations.


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