IDEX 2015

Testing times [IDX15D4]

26 February 2015

Live firings of missiles, and especially advanced tactical ballistic missiles (ATBMs), generally require large sea-facing test areas with relatively clear airspace. The 50-year-old NATO Missile Firing Installation (NAMFI, Stand C3-004) in Crete offers just that.

In recent years, weapon systems such as Patriot, TOR-M1, Stinger, Mistral and numerous others have been tested there. Comprising a vast sea area 200x100km in extent and with almost unlimited airspace, NAMFI is ideal for the live testing of modern long-range air defence and ATBM weapon systems under realistic scenario conditions. Those scenarios include information/crisis handling, decision-making processes, site reconnaissance, deployment and live firing, as well as redeployment.

NAMFI is constantly evaluated and graded according to stringent NATO criteria by NAMFI’s Tactical Firing Evaluation (TFE) section.

Besides the test firings of gun systems such as the Oto Melara 105mm and 76mm, Goalkeeper 20mm and Phalanx 20mm from warships, the range has also hosted air-to-air launches of the likes of Exocet, Sidewinder, Maverick, Hellfire, Magic 2 and Mica missiles.

It is the only firing range in Europe with the ability to host firings of anti-ATBM weapons. ATBM firings are usually conducted by the Patriot weapon system against a missile drone representing the ballistic target.

The ballistic missile is launched from an islet located 157km away, with the target following a very high-altitude trajectory with high velocity and heading towards NAMFI. The unit being trained will detect, engage and destroy it in the shortest possible time.

A network of surveillance and tracking radars, together with extensive civil and military capabilities integration and communications, ensure that all activities in NAMFI are performed according to the highest safety standards.

(270 words)