Air Defender 23

In the multinational Air Defender 23 exercise, 25 nations train together in the airspace above Europe in joint air operations.

A carrier aircraft with special design features

The exercise Air Defender 23 is the largest deployment exercise of air forces in NATO's history and demonstrates transatlantic solidarity. From June 12-23, up to 10.000 exercise participants from 25 nations with 220 aircraft will train air operations in European airspace under the command of the German Air Force.

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For the first time an A400M carrier aircraft has obtained a special design. This is how it was done.

Exercise air defender joins 25 nations

The exercise Air Defender 23 is the largest multinational air operations exercise in NATO's history and demonstrates transatlantic solidarity. From June 12-23, up to 10,000 exercise participants from 25 nations with 220 aircraft will train air operations in European airspace under the command of the German Air Force.

Air Defender 23 serves as a challenging exercise scenario with air warfare operations for friendly and allied air forces. The goal is to optimize and enhance cooperation among NATO forces and to show the strength of the alliance.

What capabilities are being trained?

The 25 participating nations train their joint airborne response capability to crises. Germany is performing its role as a collective defense hub within Europe during this exercise.

How many personnel and material is involved?

Up to 10,000 servicemen and women are participating in the exercise. Among the 220 aircraft involved, there will be 23 different aircraft types. 100 of these aircraft alone come from 35 states in the U.S. and are being deployed to Europe. They are part of the U.S. Air National Guard.

Which nations are participating?

Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, Greece.

Where is the exercise area?

The participating nations will mainly be exercising from the locations of

    Jagel/Hohn in Schleswig-Holstein
    Laage in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania
    Wunstorf in Lower Saxony
    Lechfeld in Bavaria
    Spangdahlem in Rhineland-Palatinate
    Volkel in the Netherlands
    Čáslav in the Czech Republic

The three main locations during Air Defender 2023 are the airfields Schleswig/Hohn, Wunstorf and Lechfeld in Germany. There will be three main flight areas above Germany.

Will there be flight cancellations or delays?

The exercise areas are based on areas that have been used by the Air Force for routine training for decades. However, they have been expanded for the large-scale maneuver and, in some cases, connected by corridors.

According to current Air Force plans, the east training area will be temporarily reserved for military use between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., the south training area between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m., and the north training area between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. There will be no practice flights on weekends.

Detailed planning of flight times and routes over Germany during the exercise period has not yet been completed. The final planning conference with all participating nations will take place in mid-April.

Time shifted use

The Air Force does everything in its power to keep the impact of Air Defender 23 on the population as low as possible. For example, the three air training areas are only used for military purposes on a staggered basis for two to four hours a day and are not available to civilian air traffic during this time window.

In close cooperation with the authorities responsible for air safety, the airlines and the civil airfields, processes and procedures are currently being optimized to minimize the impact on civil air traffic as far as possible.

Map of Germany
Map of Germany

Good to know

Find the latest articles on a variety of aspects with regards to the exercise here.


  • Zwei Tornados und zwei Eurofighter sind auf einem Flugplatz während der Übung Baltic Hunter.
    Planning of a major exercise

    Jahrelange Vorbereitung für Air Defender 2023

    Air Defender 2023 - the Bundeswehr's largest live flying exercise in over 40 years. The preparation time for this exercise: four years.

    • Aktuelles
    • Luftwaffe
    • Deutschland


  • A400M flying low

    Increased noise due to aircraft activity

    More than 200 aircraft will take part in Air Defender 23. This will result in increased aircraft noise in parts of Germany.

    • Exercise
    • Air Force
    • Germany


Aircraft of partner nations

24 partner nations are coming to Germany with their aircraft types, including various jets including the F-35 of the Americans and Dutch, the types of which are planned for the German Air Force as a Tornado successor, as well as a NATO Awacs reconnaissance aircraft and, for the first time, a transport aircraft of the Japanese Air Force.

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  • Aircraft


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Get a visual impression here of the largest air force deployment exercise in NATO's history.