The Air Defender 23 exercise as a strong signal of the transatlantic partnership

The Air Defender 23 exercise as a strong signal of the transatlantic partnership

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“With the Air Defender 23 exercise, we are opening a new chapter in transatlantic history,” the Chief of the German Air Force informed German and American journalists at a press conference at the German Embassy in Washington, D.C.District of Columbia (District of Columbia), on 4 April.

An American general and a German general sitting behind microphones.

Lieutenant General Michael Loh (l) and Lieutenant General Ingo Gerhartz, Chief of the German Air Force, are presenting the Air Defender 23 exercise to journalists in Washington.

Bundeswehr/Francis Hildemann

The fact that Air Defender was the largest deployment of air forces from the United States to Europe since the foundation of NATO would speak for itself, Ingo Gerhartz continued. The exercise was based on an Article 5 assistance scenario since NATO is a pure defense alliance, he emphasized. Although the awareness of the significance of military strength had changed throughout Germany and Europe since the turning point — as the change of political thinking in the context of the Ukraine war is called in Germany —, the transatlantic link remained of central importance, the Chief of the German Air Force said. By planning, organizing, and conducting Air Defender 2023, Germany was responding to the call to take on more responsibility.

In the event of a crisis, the air forces as first responders were of special importance thanks to their rapid reaction capability, Gerhartz explained further. This capability needed to be practiced and demonstrated in the sense of credible collective defense in the Air Defender exercise: “We must show everyone that we are capable of defending our shared values of freedom and democracy within this Alliance when it comes to the point.”

Lieutenant General Michael Loh, Director of the Air National Guard, emphasized that the transatlantic partnership was based on mutual trust and shared values. Air Defender 23 would connect the United States and Germany on the strategic level. But first and foremost, the exercise would allow the United States National Guard to establish and consolidate the relations with the other participating nations on the operational level. According to the Director of the Air National Guard, the exercise would test the capability of the participating air forces to cooperate and show whether this cooperation was quickly feasible.

Minimizing the impact

The Chief of the German Air Force emphasized that the Air Force would do everything possible to minimize the impact of more than 250 takeoffs on the population. The exercise elements would be flown largely above the North Sea and the Baltic Sea in order to keep the aircraft noise as low as possible. Furthermore, the three exercise airspaces North, South, and East would be used one at a time for only two to three hours a day. This would also ensure that civilian flights could be conducted mostly according to schedule — even if an exercise airspace would be temporarily closed for civilian aviation.

During the Air Defender 23 exercise, the United States National Guard will deploy more than 100 aircraft to Germany, from where 24 nations with a total of more than 220 aircraft will practice combined air operations during the two weeks from 12 to 23 June. The exercise will take place under German command but NATO will be involved as well.

The National Guard is composed of military units under the flags of USUnited States federal states which, together with regular United States armed forces, have been assigned to the command of the individual governors. In the event of a crisis, the USUnited States president can activate them to support the regular armed forces. Furthermore, they can be employed by the federal states in case of natural disasters.

by Sylvia Boerner

mehr zu Air defender 2023

Air Defender 23

Multinational air operation exercise in Europe