Jagel Air Base

Jagel – the main base during Air Defender 23

Jagel – the main base during Air Defender 23

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Two weeks before its start, the Air Defender 23 exercise already cast a literally great shadow on the air base in Jagel – in the form of a gigantic American Boeing C-17 transport aircraft. It brought 32 passengers and a lot of technical equipment to Jagel. One day later, an F/A18 Hornet combat aircraft landed at the neighbouring airfield in Hohn.

Two Tornado aircraft fly in formation in the sky. Below them, the Jagel airfield can be clearly seen.

51 Tactical Air Wing Immelmann is one of two Tornado bases of the German Air Force. During Air Defender 23, the airfields in Jagel and Hohn will offer space for a total of 70 combat aircraft.

Bundeswehr/Florian Friz

And that was just the beginning: During the multinational Air Defender 23 major exercise, more than 70 other aircraft will come in to land at the two military airfields in the heart of Schleswig-Holstein. The two garrisons will have a key role during the largest deployment exercise since NATO was established because most combat aircraft will be taking off from here to participate in combined manoeuvres over northern Germany. Hohn and Jagel are both located within the exercise area, which will be closed to civil air traffic in specific altitudes between 16 and 20 o’clock.

For the USUnited States Air National Guard and its more than 100 aircraft stationed temporarily at the airfield, in particular, Jagel will be the main air base during the exercise period from 12 to 23 June. Home of 51 Tactical Air Wing (TAW) Immelmann for almost three decades now, Jagel will also be the main base for the combat aircraft involved, whose field headquarters will be located in the temporary fighter ops, a kind of container village. American F-16 and EA-18 aircraft, Hungarian Gripen and British Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft will take off from Jagel to conduct their exercise missions.

Former Transall hangar becomes mess hall

1,600 servicewomen and servicemen – including 1,200 Americans alone – will be accommodated in a tent and container town solely built for the exercise in the nearby Kai-Uwe-von-Hassel barracks. At the Hohn airfield near Rendsburg, 20 kilometres away, a mobile kitchen with a surface of more than 450 square metres is being established in a former Transall hangar. The personnel will cater for up to 1,000 servicewomen and servicemen here. Hohn air base is subordinate to 51 TAW Immelmann as an alternate airfield. During the exercise, 32 aircraft will be stationed at Hohn air base, including American F/A18 aircraft.

Usually, it is Tornado aircraft that can be seen in the sky above Jagel. Equipped with advanced reconnaissance sensors and a deployable evaluation system, 51 TAW is part of the Bundeswehr’s operationally earmarked forces and the German Air Force’s only flying unit that has manned and unmanned airborne imaging and signal detection reconnaissance capabilities. In 2013, the air wing additionally took over the capability to suppress enemy ground-based air defence from the dissolved 32 Fighter Bomber Wing in Lechfeld. Since 2005, the air wing has also been tasked with the role of naval air warfare.

From Imperial German Army Air Service to Royal Air Force

The military roots of the air base date back to World War I. After World War II, the Royal Air Force initially used the base, which was called RAF Schleswigland for some time. Thus, the air base was also involved in the Berlin Airlift in 1948. Taken over by the Bundeswehr in 1958, the garrison was initially home of Naval Air Wing 1. In 1994, the wing was transferred to the Air Force. And Jagel already has experience in conducting large exercise scenarios due to several major NATO exercises.

by Rüdiger Franz

Air Defender 23

Multinational air operation exercise in Europe