Hosting the world's first multinational integrated air and missile defence test
QinetiQ, working with the Maritime Theater Missile Defense (MTMD) Forum, hosted Europe’s most complicated naval weapons firing ever – and the world’s first multinational integrated air and missile defence test – at the QinetiQ operated MOD Hebrides Range.
MOD Hebrides, situated in northwest Scotland, is managed and operated by QinetiQ on behalf of the MOD under the Long Term Partnering Agreement (LTPA). In October 2015, the Range hosted the MTMD Forum for At Sea Demonstration 2015 (ASD15) to test allied nations' capability to provide air and missile defence.
"To remain proficient, we must practice unified, decisive, and timely command and control. Continuous training also hones our operational tactics, techniques, and procedures, which help us achieve the level of readiness required to execute such a demanding fast-paced mission as BMD.”
Our customer for this unique trial – MTMD Forum – comprises 10 member states. The Forum provides a multinational platform for development of joint protection against ballistic and advanced anti-ship cruise missile threats, through international research, development, test and evaluation, and military operational assessment such as ASD15.
ASD15 was the culmination of more than four years of complex trials planning and a significant amount of investment, including infrastructure upgrades, which have created a truly world-class Range for the future, capable of efficiently and cost-effectively conducting a wide range of complex test events, including those for ballistic missile defence (BMD). MOD Hebrides is the only Range outside of the Pacific capable of hosting an event of this type.
Comprising over 30 events, ASD15 saw the simultaneous tracking and engagement of a ballistic missile target, as well as two sea-skimming cruise missile targets. It was a successful demonstration of how joint working between some of the world's best navies has moved to the next level of cooperation, with ships taking part sharing information simultaneously.
ADS15 resulted in a number of significant firsts:
- The first object – the Terrier Orion target – ever to be launched into Space from the UK
- The first use of multinational beyond line of sight data link for Maritime Integrated Air and Missile Defence in Europe, allowing a shared operating picture to be seen by all units
- The first NATO (non-US) maritime cueing of a space target to a US ballistic missile defence (BMD) guided missile destroyer
- The first launch of Standard Missile 3 outside the US Pacific Ranges.
As hosts for ADS15, QinetiQ was responsible for ensuring the safe design of the test events conducted. Due to the size of the safety traces required for the launch of the range of targets and weapons systems, all transatlantic air routes north west of the UK were closed from sea level to the edge of space during the live firing event. Our highly qualified and experienced safety team at the Hebrides worked closely with Air Traffic Control to minimise disruption, and ensure a successful outcome. To ensure no vessels strayed into danger we had four Maritime Patrol Aircraft, as well as an AWACS plane backing up the Range’s own radar, to ensure no danger to aircraft.
From the Range Validation Test in September, to the end of ASD15 in late October, the successful serials conducted at the Hebrides range included:
- Four ballistic targets (Terrier Orion)
- 13 cruise missile targets (Mirach)
- One ballistic missile interceptor (SM3)
- 11 surface to air missiles (ESSM, SM2, Aster30)
The success of ASD15 has proved that MOD Hebrides is a 21st century Range, capable of supporting an increased range of missile firings, including BMD.
“It was an absolute pleasure to hear our customers talking about their experiences and few words can adequately describe the incredible impression that all of those involved have helped to make on the multinational teams during ASD15.
"Together we have raised the bar with the international community by delivering an amazing demonstration, showcasing what we can achieve as a business, collaboratively working together. This has resulted in our customers talking about “when” and not “if” they will come back, which is testament to the dedication and commitment of our teams.”