Air bases

Wunstorf: Hub for the tanker and transport aircraft at Air Defender 2023

Wunstorf: Hub for the tanker and transport aircraft at Air Defender 2023

Reading time:

As the main hub and starting point for the transport and tanker aircraft, Wunstorf Air Base plays a key role in the Air Defender 23 exercise. With 62 Air Transport Wing  (62 ATW), Wunstorf is home to the German A400M transport aircraft and thus predestined as a location for the partners' transport aircraft.

On an airfield there are transport planes, one of which is foiled with a US flag

The Airbus A400M with the special foil for the exercise Air Defender 2023 at Wunstorf Air Base

Bundeswehr / Johannes Heyn

Logistics hub for Air Defender 2023

As the only German Air Force base for transport aircraft, Wunstorf near Hanover is the central location when it comes to air transport and air refueling. Accordingly, there is a lot of expertise here in this capability field, making Wunstorf the perfect logistics hub for the Air Defender 2023 exercise. Even though many transport aircraft will land and take off in Wunstorf, the air base is located outside the exercise areas. Fighter aircraft will not be stationed at the site for the exercise.

Allied forces at the air base

On the occasion of the multinational exercise, 62 ATW will welcome many allied foreign guests to the airfield from May 29 to June 30. The 2,600 German civilian and military forces stationed at the site will be joined by around 600 American, Romanian and Hungarian servicemen and women during this period. While the Romanians will be represented by a C-27 transport aircraft, the U.S. will station ten C-130s and two C-17s in Wunstorf for the duration of the exercise. During the largest deployment exercise in NATO's history, the air base will become the central logistics hub. In concrete terms, this means that the C-17 transporters will fly material and personnel from America to the Lower Saxony air base, where it will be transshipped and flown from Wunstorf to the other exercise locations by the C-130s. In addition to airlift, transport is also via road using American flatbed trailers. Thus, the air exercise is one of the largest events for the Wunstorf site since the air base was established. Accordingly, the accommodations in the barracks and the hotels in the region are heavily utilized.

Field tank storage

To ensure that the more than 230 aircraft taking part in the exercise over Germany do not run out of fuel, the special engineers from Husum have set up a mobile field fuel depot on the grounds of the air base in recent months. This is necessary because fuel is needed not only for the transport and tanker aircraft for the upcoming air refueling operations, but also for the combat aircraft. This enormous demand cannot be met by the conventional aviation fuel depot. In operating the field fuel depot, the German special engineers will be supported by a small contingent of Hungarian pipeline forces. Following the exercise, the field tank farm will continue to be used to modernize the existing fixed tank farm.

People in blue work clothes pull black foils through a basin

Soldiers from the Special Engineer Regiment 164 spread the used fuel tank in the tank basin during the setup of a field tank storage for the Air Defender 2023 exercise at the Wunstorf Air Base

2023 Bundeswehr/Susanne Hähnel

Wunstorf Air Base

The Wunstorf airfield, which has existed since the 1930s, is now the home base of the German A400M fleet. The 39 transport aircraft stationed here are set to grow to 50 in the future. With one of the most modern military airfields in Europe, 62 Air Transport Wing meets all air transport requirements. After initially being used for logistical airlift, the A400M is increasingly being deployed in tactical airlift as its capabilities grow, for example for medical evacuation (MedEvacMedical Evacuation) or aerial refueling.

by Cedric Kortenbruck

Air Defender 23

Multinational air operation exercise in Europe