Exercise Air Defender 2023 (AD23), a German-led multinational exercise, will take place June 12-24.

Lieutenant General Ingo Gerhartz, Chief, German Air Force, called this the “largest deployment exercise since the foundation of NATO. We want to demonstrate the agility and swiftness of Air Forces as a first responder and showcase NATO Air Power. The transatlantic dimension is a rock-solid proof of NATO cohesion and solidarity.”

The exercise focus is on operational and tactical flying. Air forces from 24 nations with 220 aircraft will participate. NATO is providing its E3A component (NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control), Deployable Air Command and Control Centre (DARS) and electronic warfare assets.

There will be more than 20 different aircraft types in service, including Eurofighter, A10, F16, F/A18, F35, and Gripen. The US contribution will include about 100 Air National Guard aircraft that will fly into Europe. 

Following the arrival and beddown of incoming US reinforcements and other Allied aircraft at three hubs in Germany -- Jagel/Hohn in Schleswig-Holstein, Wunstorf in Lower Saxony and Lechfeld in Bavaria -- as well as Spangdahlem in Rhineland-Palatinate, Volkel in The Netherlands and Čáslav in Czechia, participants will practice Composite Air Operations (COMAOs) in training areas over Germany and conduct so-called out-and-back missions into the Baltic States and Romania. 

Assets from Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechia, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Finland, France, Italy, Japan, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Romania, Sweden, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, Hungary, the UK, and the US will be flying in AD23.

The exercise will be combined in time and space with the German-led Multinational Air Exercise (MAGDAYS 23) and linked with two NATO exercises (RAMSTEIN DUST 23 and RAMSTEIN GUARD 23). Almost 10,000 airmen will be involved in the exercises. 

The participating air forces will be exposed to training scenarios simulating a scenario under Article 5 of NATO. This entails an armed attack against one or more member states in Europe or North America, which is considered an attack against all. Article 5 was introduced in 1949 when the Soviet Union threatened to forcibly take over democratically elected governments in Europe. The AD23 exercise was planned and prepared long before Russia's most recent invasion of Ukraine, organisers emphasised.

There will inevitably be impacts on civilian air traffic, which organisers will strive to minimise. Parts of German airspace will be temporarily closed for operations. Airlines have been informed about the exercise and are adjusting their flight schedules. To alleviate the congestion in German airspace, Eurocontrol, the European organisation for air navigation, will divert flights that pass over Germany but do not intend to land there.

No exercises are planned during weekends.