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Spanish frigate ESPS Cristobal Colon lead NATO At-Sea Demo exercise.

| 2021

According to information published by the U.S. Navy on May 3, 2021, the Spanish Álvaro de Bazán-class frigate ESPS Cristóbal Colón (F-105) is this year’s designated flagship for the execution of Exercise At-Sea Demonstration/Formidable Shield 2021, scheduled to take place May 15 to June 3.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Spanish Alvaro de Bazan-class frigate ESPS Cristobal Colon F-105 (Picture source: U.S. Navy)

At-Sea Demo/Formidable Shield is a U.S. Sixth Fleet-led exercise, conducted by Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO), in which NATO Allies are the participants.

STRIKFORNATO will provide a maritime battle Staff Operational Command directly to the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), delivering a rapidly deployable and scalable headquarters capable of planning and executing full-spectrum joint maritime operations and providing command and control of maritime Ballistic Missile Defense, primarily through integration of U.S. Naval forces.

Commander, Task Force (CTF) 64, Capt. Jon Lipps will lead this year’s exercise as the Commander, Task Group Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD). Lipps addressed the crew after a brief tour of the Cristobal Colon, April 30.

The exercise is designed to improve allied interoperability in a live-fire joint IAMD environment, using NATO command and control reporting structures. Ten nations will participate by sending ships, aircraft, ground assets, and embarked staff in Task Group IAMD, including Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

There will be 15 ships, more than 10 aircraft, and approximately 3,300 personnel participating this year.

Exercise At-Sea Demo/Formidable Shield receives support from U.S. European Command, Missile Defense Agency, the Maritime Theater Missile Defense Forum (MTMD-F), and Program Executive Office for Integrated Warfare Systems (PEO-IWS). The exercise is intended to assure Allies, deter adversaries, and demonstrate the commitment to collective defense for the NATO alliance.

Cristóbal Colón is the fifth and last ship of the Álvaro de Bazán-class of air defense frigates entering service with the Spanish Navy. The ship is named after Christopher Columbus, an Italian explorer that claimed the discovery of America in the name of the Crown of Castile. It is the most modern ship of the Spanish Navy.

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