NATO allies prepare unprecedented air deployment exercise over Europe in show of force to Russia
Some 10,000 participants and 250 aircraft from 25 nations will take part in Air Defender 23 exercise
BERLIN (AP) — Germany is preparing to host the biggest air deployment exercise in NATO’s history, a show of force intended to impress allies and potential adversaries such as Russia, German and American officials said on Wednesday.
The Air Defender 23 exercise starting next week will see 10,000 participants and 250 aircraft from 25 nations respond to a simulated attack on a NATO member country. The United States alone is sending 2,000 US Air National Guard personnel and about 100 aircraft to take part in the June 12-23 training maneuvers.
“This is an exercise that would be absolutely impressive to anybody who’s watching, and we don’t make anybody watch it,” US Ambassador to Germany Amy Gutmann said.
“It will demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt the agility and the swiftness of our allied force in NATO as a first responder,” she told reporters in Berlin.
“I would be pretty surprised if any world leader was not taking note of what this shows in terms of the spirit of this alliance, which means the strength of this alliance,” Gutmann said.
“It’s about the readiness of our force. It’s about coordination, not just within NATO, but with our other allies and partners outside of NATO,” he said.
Loh said the exercise would be an opportunity for younger US airmen, many of whom have mainly gotten experience serving in the Middle East, to build relationships with allies in Europe and prepare for a different military scenario.
“So this is about now establishing what it means to go against a great power, in a great power competition,” he said.
Authorities have said the drill will cause some disruption to civilian flights in Europe during the period.