“Air Defender 23”: US personnel landed in Wunstorf for the largest NATO air force exercise to date

The largest NATO air force exercise since the alliance was founded takes place in June under German leadership. Up to 250 military aircraft will be in action every day over the partially closed airspace in Germany and over the North and Baltic Seas. The Bundeswehr announced that they would fly “only occasionally” to the Russian border.

On Tuesday, as part of the “Air Defender 23” maneuver, the first US transport aircraft landed at the Bundeswehr Air Force Air Base in Wunstorf in Lower Saxony. Until the start of the largest NATO air force exercise of all time, another one or two more US aircraft with personnel and material are to arrive “at the air base” every day, the reported NDR on Tuesday.

Up to 10,000 soldiers from 25 nations took part in the twelve-day NATO exercise, which is scheduled to begin on June 12 and is being conducted under the auspices of the German Air Force. According to the media, this is the largest air maneuver since NATO was founded. A statement from the Bundeswehr also said:

“Exercise Air Defender 23 is the largest air force deployment exercise in NATO’s history. It demonstrates alliance solidarity and transatlantic ties.”

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This maneuver is about demonstrating the transatlantic connections. Accordingly, the USA participated with 100 aircraft from 35 US states. “From June 12th to 23rd, up to 10,000 exercise participants from 25 nations with 220 aircraft will train under the leadership of the Air Force for air operations in European airspace,” the Bundeswehr statement continued.

The 25 nations are to practice the joint responsiveness of their air forces in a crisis situation. Germany will assume the role of a defense hub within Europe. According to the Bundeswehr, the following nations will be involved:

Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Italy, Japan, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Romania, Sweden, Slovenia, Spain, Czech Republic, Turkey, Hungary, USA, United Kingdom. Operations will mainly start from the following military airfields:

  • Jagel/Hohn in Schleswig-Holstein
  • Wunstorf in Lower Saxony
  • Lechfeld in Bavaria
  • Spangdahlem in Rhineland-Palatinate
    in Germany as well
  • Völkel in the Netherlands and
  • Čáslav in the Czech Republic

In Germany, different airspaces would be closed to civil air traffic for several hours every day. NTV According to the report, 90 percent of Luftwaffe flights are to take place over Germany and in particular over the “adjacent coastal areas of the North and Baltic Seas”. In order to gain understanding among the German population, Generalleutnant Ingo Gerhartz gave the daily mirror a related interview. He told the newspaper that the military exercise was primarily about deterrence – and that air operations near the Russian border would be carried out “only occasionally”.

“It would certainly be a provocation if we simulated flying missions in the direction of Kaliningrad, for example. But we don’t do that,” explained the German Air Force Inspector General Gerhartz.

Another major air force maneuver by NATO and partner nations has been taking place since Monday. According to the Finnish Air Force, more than a dozen nations and 150 military aircraft took part in the almost two-week “Arctic Challenge Exercise”. They fly missions from Finland, Norway and Sweden in arctic regions.

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