Largest NATO air exercise to date begins in Germany with Czech participation

The training will involve 10,000 soldiers from 25 countries and will last over 10 days. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 12.06.2023 11:20:00 (updated on 12.06.2023) Reading time: 1 minute

Czechia today will participate in history's largest NATO air exercise, which will take place in Germany. The military exercise, named Air Defender 23, will include around 10,000 soldiers and 250 different aircraft. It will take place from June 12 to June 23. Personnel from 25 countries – including non-NATO states Japan and Sweden – will participate, and most of the training will take place over the North Sea. 

NATO wants to send a political message of deterrence with its Air Defender exercise, Torben Arnold of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs told news site Deutsche Welle: “We will defend every centimeter of NATO territory.”

Air Defender 2023 will aim to test the capability of rapid deployment and utilization of aviation. People traveling via plane to German airports are advised to be cautious of potential delays. 

 "The exercise will demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt the agility and the swiftness of our allied force in NATO as a first responder" 

Amy Gutmann, the US ambassador to Germany

NATO, which has recently expanded to include Finland, has bolstered its forces amid the backdrop of Russian aggression. This February, the 31-country alliance founded in 1949 said it hoped to accelerate the supply of arms to Ukraine.

Czechia, which recently agreed to the purchase of U.S.-made Viper helicopter fighters, joined Europe’s air-defense system in October 2022. This includes an anti-missile network across multiple countries.

Attempting to bolster its own air defense, Czechia mulls buying 24 modern F-35 jet fighters from the U.S. In May, the Czech military also announced plans to buy 200 small drones, used for surveillance. 

Earlier this month, the Czech 25th Air Missile Defence Regiment started the Tobruq Shield 2023 exercise, which involves over 500 troops testing the country’s anti-missile defense. It will run until June 16.

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