F-100 frigate ‘Blas de Lezo’ and AOR ‘Patiño’ participate in Exercise ‘Formidable Shield-23’.

Thursday, May 11, 2023

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Frigate ‘Blas de Lezo’ firing a ‘Harpoon’ missile.
Frigate ‘Blas de Lezo’ firing a ‘Harpoon’ missile.
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Frigate ‘Blas de Lezo’ firing a ‘Harpoon’ missile.

On April 29, the F-100 frigate 'Blas de Lezo' and the auxiliary oiler and replenishment (AOR) 'Patiño' set sail to participate in the biennial exercise 'Formidable Shield', from May 8 to 26, considered the most important air and missile defense exercise in Europe. The exercises will take place at the naval firing ranges of Andoya (Norway) and The Hebrides (United Kingdom).

On May 8, as part of the ‘Formidable Shield-23’ exercise, frigate ‘Blas de Lezo’ (F-103) launched a ‘Harpoon’ anti-surface missile against a drifting target at the range of Andoya (Norway). This firing was conducted in coordination with a maritime patrol aircraft from another allied nation that also conducted a missile firing. This is one of several drills to be carried out by the ship, which will allow her to maintain and increase her training in the use of weapons against different targets.

The purpose of the ‘Formidable Shield’ exercises is to assess the capabilities of the participating nations and demonstrate their interoperability against complex threats in realistic air and missile defense scenarios. It is an excellent opportunity to conduct advanced missile launchings. The execution of a joint-combined exercise of the size of ‘Formidable Shield-23’ offers the opportunity to recreate a complex theater of operations, very similar to a real high-intensity scenario, which multiplies the advantages of the training.

The significance of the Spanish Navy in this exercise is reinforced by the participation of the AOR ‘Patiño’, tasked with providing logistic support to an international naval force of considerable size, in which up to 23 warships are expected to participate. The main mission of the ‘Patiño’ is to provide fuel to the participating units so as to extend the ships' endurance at sea. In addition, the ‘Patiño’ has a hospital and the capability to supply, if necessary, spare parts and provisions. The ‘Blas de Lezo’, apart from operating as flagship of the task force, with the FS-23 Staff on board until the end of May, also plans to act as a surface and anti-aircraft missile launching unit in several events, which will serve to test once again the capabilities of the F-100s as anti-air and anti-missile defense ships.

Spain is one of the few countries in the world that has its own frigates equipped with an AEGIS combat system, with extraordinary capabilities, redundancy and reliability. The excellent features of these frigates and the high level of training of their crews provide the Navy with an air and missile defense capability that is essential both, to protect valuable units, and to complement the coverage of the National Air Defense System. Since the commissioning of the first 'Álvaro de Bazán' class frigate 20 years ago, these units have been frequently integrated in international groups, in many occasions as command ships (flagships), favoring and improving the interoperability of our units with those of the rest of the NATO countries, and at the same time promoting collective security.

The participation in this exercise exemplifies Spain's firm commitment to NATO's Deterrence and Defense Policy to guarantee peace, world security and international legality, as well as strengthening the image of our Armed Forces in the international context.


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