The Tromp frigate destroys a practice target and spots a ballistic missile in space at the same time

The air defense and command frigate Zr.Ms. Tromp launched four missiles during the large-scale maritime exercise Formidable Shield. They also managed to detect a ballistic missile in space with SMART-L radar. For example, the most important objectives of the Dutch Navy seem to have been achieved now that the exercise is over.

Zr.Mrs. Tromp launches an SM-2. The missile was aimed at a subsonic target, a target that flies no faster than sound. (Photo: Defence)

Formidable Shield is an exercise in Norwegian waters and the Atlantic Ocean in which thirteen NATO countries and partners have participated this year. In addition to the Netherlands and Norway, the United States, Spain, Germany, Portugal, Italy, France, Denmark, Finland, Poland and Australia also participated in the exercise, which began on May 8 and ended yesterday.

The exercise focused primarily on integrated air and missile defence. The objectives of Zr.Ms. So Trump focused on that. A navy spokesman, who was present in Norway, tells that the frigate went into action several times.

To simulate supersonic anti-ship missiles, the Coyote is used. This missile, if it works well, will be destroyed during the exercise. (Photo: US Navy)

Four missile launches
De Tromp fired four missiles throughout the exercise. These four missiles were all aimed at an aerial target, the spokesman said. The aerial targets were Banshee Jet 80 subsonic targets, and the Tromp was also launched on a supersonic target with the French FREMM frigate FS Bretagne and the Spanish frigate Blas de Lezo (Alvaro de Bazan class). The supersonic anti-ship missile was, according to the US Navy, replenished by a GQM-163A Coyote, launched from the Hebrides. The Coyote is a low-grazing missile and reaches speeds of up to Mach 3.8 at high altitude and 2.6 a few meters above the waves.

During at least part of the exercises, the Tromp had as Commander of the Anti-Aircraft Force in charge of the air defense of the strip.

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Americans do it themselves
Additionally, concurrent with the latest launches, a ballistic missile was detected in space with the ship’s SMART-L MM/N radar. So the Tromp was able to combine that, the spokeswoman explains: They then removed the ballistic missile, as we call it, and put it on the link. Putting it on the link will share the track with other ships.

In space and above the sea at the same time
By: Jaime Karremann

Few warships can see a ballistic missile in space. There are even fewer ships that can also see an anti-ship missile, because the radar is then often completely focused on what is happening in space. Such a ship is then liable to be attacked itself. This is why the Dutch frigates practice combined defence; air targets (to protect themselves and surrounding ships) and ballistic missiles.

The large black radar on the right is the SMART-L. This radar can see up to 2,000 km of missiles in space. The APAR, the radar in the angled mast to the left of the photo, is used to see and track low-approach missiles. (Picture: Jaime Karremann/

CFLs can do it at the same time. In any case, the SMART-L MM/N has different modes; from full air defense to full ballistic missile defense, but also combinations in between. However, frigates also have an APAR, this radar is designed to detect low-flying targets and to guide missiles to their target. For example, the SMART-L MM/N can focus on space and the APAR can, for example, search the horizon for grazing missiles.

The Americans destroyed the missile. The Americans did it based on their own information and not ours, as happened two years ago. But we detected this ballistic missile ourselves.

Two years ago, Zr.Ms. De Zeven Provincin made history during Formidable Shield by being the first European ship to successfully track a ballistic target and transmit the data using its own resources.

We did it two years ago, but this year the Americans wanted to practice themselves and work with their own data, the Navy spokesman said.

Tobias Author: Tobias Kappelle
Tobias has been working as a freelance journalist for since August 2020. In addition, he is mainly active in sports journalism at AD Sportwereld, Eurosport and, among others. Tobias studied History and Public Administration and Organizational Sciences at Utrecht University and completed a Masters in Media and Journalism at Erasmus University Rotterdam.

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