The High North was a pretend war zone last week as Russian and NATO forces staged dueling exercises, APA reports citing Forbes.
Canadian, German and Norwegian warships, a Norwegian air force F-35 stealth fighter and U.S. Air Force B-1 bombers gathered off Norway’s west coast to practice jamming and shooting down enemy anti-ship missiles.
Meanwhile, a powerful Russian missile cruiser simulated attacks on NATO submarines while lurking around a fjord near Norway’s northeast coast.
NATO’s Dynamic Guard exercise drew a powerful air and sea force, including the Canadian frigate Halifax and the Norwegian corvettes Steil and Storm. The German tanker Spessart supported the warships.
The frigate and tanker sail together under the auspices of Standing NATO Maritime Group One, or SNMG 1.
Two B-1s and at least one Norwegian F-35 flew in from Orland air base in central Norway. Three B-1s arrived at Orland on Feb. 22 for a so-called “Bomber Task Force” deployment lasting several months.
The exercise confirmed what observers predicted when the U.S. Air Force announced the B-1 deployment last month—the swing-wing bombers have come to Norway in part to prepare for a possible future sea battle with the Russian fleet.
The Dynamic Guard war game was defensive in nature. The exercise “provides opportunities for SNMG1 to enhance or otherwise validate our training, knowledge and expertise in electronic warfare and anti-ship missile defense in a unique and challenging operational environment,” said Commodore Bradley Peats, the Canadian commander of SNMG1.
But anti-ship-missile defense is a corollary to offensive anti-surface warfare. In a ship-on-ship missile battle, opposing naval groups would volley anti-ship missiles at each other while trying to shoot down incoming missiles. The group that both defends itself—and overwhelms the enemy’s defenses—wins.
It’s pretty clear how Peats disposed his forces. The frigate Halifax, displacing 4,800 tons loaded, was the biggest of the three combatants in the NATO flotilla—and the most lavishly equipped. Halifax packs a Sea Giraffe radar and two eight-cell launchers for 27-mile-range Evolved Sea Sparrow anti-air missiles as well as an SLQ-505 radar-jammer.
By contrast, the Norwegian corvettes—each displacing just 275 tons—lack long-range radars and any surface-to-air missiles. They sport CS-3701 jammers but obviously cannot pump as much power through the jammers as the larger frigate can do with its own electronic-warfare system.