NATO commanders successfully test command and control systems during missile intercept exercise

During the German-led exercise Rapid Arrow 2011, 1-3 November, the NATO Active Layered Theatre Ballistic Missile Defence Interim Capability was successfully tested allowing Alliance Commanders to practice their roles in the engagement of ballistic missile threats.


The exercise was the final step in operationally validating the interim capability by NATO’s commanders. “We are very happy with the outcome of this trial by fire,” said Major General (ret) Alessandro Pera, head of NATO’s Active Layered Theatre Ballistic Missile Defence (ALTBMD) Programme, “This also strengthens our confidence in the ability to deliver an interim territorial missile defence capability to NATO very soon.”

During the exercise, the Alliance’s interim theatre missile defence command and control capability was successfully used by NATO commanders to plan, coordinate and carry out missile defence engagements by German Patriot batteries assisted by the US AEGIS destroyer USS The Sullivans against live ballistic missile targets.

NATO Channel has published a video report on the exercise, available at:

Successful live firing

The NATO part in the exercise was played by NATO’s Allied Air Command in Ramstein and its subordinate command at Combined Air Operations Centre Uedem in Germany, with NATO operators using the interim capability. The engagements were also observed by the NATO Air Component Command at Izmir, Turkey.

The capability was demonstrated during several successful engagements conducted by the German Patriot units at the NATO firing range in Greece.

The exercise also proved the ability of the NATO system to interface and exchange date with the systems that will make the US European Phased Adaptive Approach rapidly enough to ensure successful missile defence engagements.

“From the operators’ and the commanders’ perspective, this exercise confirmed our ability to engage theatre ballistic missiles aimed at our deployed forces within the interim capability,” said Lieutenant General Friedrich Wilhelm Ploeger, DEU AF, Ramstein Deputy Commander, “the capability will continue to be further developed, specifically in light of the need to expand our mission beyond protecting forces, to also protect the territories and populations in NATO Europe.”

NATO’s interim theatre missile defence capability was delivered to NATO’s commanders in December 2010 by the ALTBMD Programme. The capability is now being upgraded to provide further functionality that will enhance its ability to perform as an interim territorial missile defence capability for NATO.

Allied Command Operations

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