Thirteen Nato countries have come together between 8-26 May 2023 in the High North and North Atlantic Ocean for exercise Formidable Shield.

The exercise demonstrates the partners’ interoperability when it comes to the organisation’s missile defence across the Euro-Atlantic. The exercise will comprise a live-fire joint and combined integrated air and missile defence (IAMD) environment, orchestrated by standard Nato command and control structures.

Some 13 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 systems (HIMARS), and approximately 4,000 personnel from across the alliance are training together.

Royal Navy Rear Admiral James Morley, deputy commander, and officer in charge of the exercise commented: “The strength and unmatched cohesion of our trans-Atlantic alliance lies in our mutual commitment to one another and to the deterrence and defence of the Euro-Atlantic area. This commitment shines through in complex, high-end evolutions like Formidable Shield.”

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While the multi-domain exercise saw many aircraft operating together – from the RAF Typhoons to French Rafale M jets – it was the HIMARS that took centre stage in the Nato arsenal.

Interoperability of HIMARS

As the unsung element of the interoperable missile exercise, HIMARS are a common thread right across Nato. The US may push the F-35 Lightning II fighter as the standard jet, but HIMARS are a standard, albeit reliable, air defence system.

The HIMARS system is a highly mobile artillery system capable of delivering precision-guided munitions, making it an ideal tool for modern warfare. It provides the end-user with greater capabilities to deter and defend against any threats to sovereignty.

Poland, the rising star of European mobilisation, has received extensive military support from the US that includes HIMARS. With the HIMARS’ effect demonstrated in wartorn Ukraine, Poland’s acquisition marks a wider spread of the standard defence system.

The production of HIMARS is currently extensive, with the Polish government being the most recent consumer of the American defence system. Poland agreed to a collaboratively produce this system alongside the orignial manufacturer, Lockheed Martin.

This marks the American-led mobilisation of the Euro-Atlantic. “The agreement will create a basis for the Polish defence industry to engage more effectively in co-operation with the US defence industry”, Poland’s deputy prime minister pointed out. In the same way, it was the US Sixth Fleet and Naval Striking and Support Forces Nato that kicked off the exercise.