PARIS — The French Navy's Forbin air defense frigate fired an Aster 30 surface-to-air missile in a training exercise May 16 to prepare the crew and vessel in engagements against airborne threats, the service said.  

"This firing and its preparation are particularly significant as they set up a complete and realistic operational engagement for the frigate and its crew," the Navy said in a May 18 statement. The firing took place while the Forbin was out at sea, and it was the third missile launch since the ship's entry into service.

Vice Adm. Marc de Briançon, commander of the surface fleet, watched the firing from the missile test center on the Levant island, operated by the Direction Générale de l'Armement procurement office, the service said.

The DGA Levant missile center located in the Mediterranean sea is tasked with drawing up the most realistic operational test fire possible while observing the highest level of security. The DGA center also evaluates the performance of the complex combat systems.

The Aster 30 arms the Forbin and its sister ship, Chevalier Paul, and will be fitted on the two forthcoming multimission frigates to be adapted to the air defense mission. The missile will also be fitted on the five intermediate frigates ordered last month.

Forbin and Chevalier Paul are French Horizon-class frigates, built in cooperation with Italy. Paris cut an initial plan to build four Horizon vessels for the French Navy.