The following is a repost of a Navy news story:
BMD exercise debuts cross-coordinated 5th and 6th Fleet operations
By CNE-C6F Public Affairs
NAPLES, Italy – As part of regional missile defense cross-coordination between the U.S. Navy FIFTH and SIXTH Fleets, a long-scheduled Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) exercise will start this weekend. USS Russell, operating in the eastern Mediterranean and USS Benfold operating in the northern Arabian Gulf will participate. Russell and Benfold, both Aegis-class destroyers, will be the first BMD-capable ships to operate simultaneously in the Mediterranean Sea and Arabian Gulf.
“Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense is a key part of the future of the U.S. Navy,” said Vice Admiral Sandy Winnefeld, Commander, U.S. SIXTH Fleet. “It is evolutionary and we are continuously seeking ways to improve our capabilities, in this instance across theaters.”
During the exercise, the ships will work with one another in detecting, tracking, sharing information and engaging a simulated ballistic missile by sharing data via a number of paths.
“This cooperation between neighboring fleets represents the latest in an ongoing series of defensive exercises intended to provide increased security. We will continue to periodically conduct these sorts of exercises to demonstrate our commitment to regional friends in the eastern Mediterranean and the Arabian Gulf,” said Vice Adm. Kevin J. Cosgriff, Commander U.S. FIFTH Fleet.
Seven nations work with the U.S. Navy in various capacities to advance BMD capabilities around the world. The fundamental objective of the BMD program is to develop the capability to defend the United States, its friends and its forces against various types of ballistic missiles. By late 2008, 18 Aegis ships are scheduled to be equipped with BMD.
“We are beginning to see the fielding of this new capability. This exercise, which we began planning late last year, will demonstrate an important application of Aegis BMD in the Fleet,” said Winnefeld.