Air Defender 2023


With “Air Defender 2023”, NATO held the largest air exercises since its foundation in 1949. 25 countries took part in the maneuvers, including members of the Atlantic Alliance and its partners. For example Sweden, with 10 soldiers and 250 aircraft, including 70 from Germany and 100 from the United States. The goal was to optimize and broaden cooperation between participating countries, as well as show NATO’s strength. The operational scenario simulated the activation of article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, i.e. the exercise of collective defense in the event of an attack against a State party. Given the central position in NATO, Germany had the lead of “Air Defender 2023”, constituting the hub of operations. In addition to Hohn and Lechfeld, the main take-off points were Jagel, Wunstorf and Spangdahlem as well as Volkel in the Netherlands and Caslav in the Czech Republic.

The exercise directly affected three flight zones in Germany. Parts of northern Germany and the North Sea, parts of eastern Germany and the Baltic Sea, and parts of southwestern Germany. The maneuvers mostly took place above all in the German skies, in the Czech Republic, in the Baltic states, in Poland and in Romania, with the closure of part of the airspace to civilian aircraft and drones.

From New Orleans, the city of Jazz (JZ) , this Louisiana ANG F-15 heads for the blue sky for another Air Defender 2023 mission.



Different types of aircraft participated, mostly multi-role aircraft, but also others specialised in ground attack, or electronic warfare or multi-role interceptors. Fighter planes include US F-35 stealth jets and F-15s; F-16s from the US, Turkey and Greece; Eurofighters from Spain and the UK; German Tornadoes; US NAVY and Finnish F/A-18s; Hungarian Gripens; as well as US A-10 ground-attack jets.

The latest NATO-member Finland send 4 F-18’s to Hohn. This one seen at June 14th before landing.


A-10C of the 107th Fighter Squadron “Red Devils” returning to Jagel. This is a unit of the Michigan Air National Guard 127th Wing. It has its homebase at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Michigan.


NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg  stated that the Air Defender 2023 maneuvers in Germany are the biggest air drills in the history of the Western military alliance. “This is the biggest air exercise in NATO’s history. This exercise sends a very clear message that NATO is ready to defend every inch of allied territory and to defend every inch of allied air space.”


TuAF F-16C block 40 #89-0026 from 151 Filo is seen landing at Schleswig-Jagel.




F-18F from VFA-213 Black Lions before touchdown, Hohn, 14 June


EA-18G Growler of Electromagnetic Attack Squadron 142 (VAQ-142), “The Gray Wolves”.



Keep it low! F-15C 86154 from Massachusets ANG 104th FW almost scratches the runway at take off.