Air Defender 23





One of the Largest exercises in NATO history since the end of the Cold War will kick off on the 12th of June. The exercise aims to train and expand the rapid deployment capability and the integration of the participating forces under a NATO Article 5 scenario. More than 10,000 soldiers and 250 aircraft will be involved in this exercise, most of which will be provided by the US Air National Guard. In the weeks leading up, around 100 aircraft from 42 US states made their way across the Atlantic Ocean. The Key operation locations during the exercise are Jagel, Hohn, Wunstorf, and Lechfeld, as well as Spangdahlem, Volkel (NL), and Čáslav (CZ).

(c) Bundeswehr/Marco Parge
(c) Bundeswehr/Marco Parge




In addition to the United States, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Italy, Japan, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Sweden, Slovenia, Spain, Czech Republic, Turkey, and Hungary also take part to participate in the exercise. A large part of the approximately 250 participating aircraft maneuvers will take place in one of three large exercise air spaces north, south, and east. Furthermore, missions will take place to the Baltic States in the east and Romania in the south.

Lechfeld, the arrival

Lechfeld Air Base also plays a vital role during the exercise. As one of the Air Force's southernmost air bases, it will be the temporary home of around 340 participants, as well as 6 A-10Cs from the Idaho Air National Guard's 124th Fighter Wing and 3 F-16Cs from the Hellenic Air Force's 347 Mira. Two weeks ahead of the exercise, the first transport planes arrived with personnel and material. A large part of the logistics of this exercise runs via Wunstorf, where several Transport Aircraft from participating nations are deployed as part of the exercise.

With stops in Canada and Great Britain, the A-10s also reached their destination in Lechfeld, Bavaria, the week before the exercise and were duly received by the Neuburg Eurofighters. The Greek Air Force also arrived with three F-16Cs and brought the C-130 747, freshly painted to mark the 70th anniversary of the 356th Transport Squadron, as support aircraft.

The second press day at Lechfeld

Text: Robin Manhart

Photos: Robin Manhart

Videos: Martin Bender