NATO Begins ‘Largest-Ever’ 10-Day Western Aerial Military Exercise


According to an Aljazeera report, NATO has launched the largest-ever Western deployment exercise. Led by the German Luftwaffe, “Air Defender 23” began yesterday (June 12) and involves some 250 aircraft and 10,000 service members from 25 NATO nations, including Japan and Sweden. The Scandinavian country is currently an applicant for NATO membership.

The exercise is scheduled to run for 10 days. Ongoing drills are designed to “boost interoperability and preparedness of NATO ‘air forces in a crisis situation,’ including protecting against drones and cruise missiles in the case of an attack within NATO territory,” according to the Aljazeera report.

German defense minister Boris Pistorius said the air forces of NATO members were “of central importance in the event of an attack because they are first responders to secure the population and also their own armed forces,” adding, “the goal [is] making it clear that NATO and the German Air Force are ready to defend themselves.”

That said, Luftwaffe Lieutenant General Ingo Gerhartz said on Monday that “Air Defender 23” was first envisioned in 2018 “in part as a response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine four years earlier,” according to Aljazeera. Nonetheless, Gerhartz made it a point to cite that the drill was “not targeted at anyone” in particular.

For example, he said the exercise would not involve flights “in the direction of Kaliningrad,” which is a Russian enclave that borders Poland and Lithuania, both NATO member states.

“We are a defensive alliance and that is how this exercise is planned,” Gerhartz said.

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Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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      • 25 out of 32 NATO nations in “Air Defender 23”. I believe Russia will get the memo. Why is Canada not in the pickle?

        • Not sure why were getting involved, especially for a non-NATO state. Looks like generals are looking forward to starting WWIII.

  1. No stiff reminder and no saber-rattling, (not that Mr. Putin would care much) as long as planes are pointed in the right direction. Which means: Up, Down, West, North and South. The E has been erased from most navigational instruments, as to prevent provocative behavior which could trigger Russian leaders to decide on annexing half of Europe… Its not without some shame to admit, that much of the expected noise and visual presence of military aircraft are trumped by singing birds and other animals enjoying our recent temperatures. These jets are either not flying, or flying so incredibly fast, that their sound arrives with a few weeks delay… Seemingly, its peace on earth, up in Germany – and high taxes.