Lazy eyes listen
NATO is planning its largest-ever Air Force exercises this summer, according to a statement from the German Armed Forces. The drills, dubbed ‘Air Defender 23,’ are set to take place between June 12 and June 24 and are expected to involve hundreds of aircraft from dozens of countries.
The war games will involve 10,000 soldiers and 220 aircraft, according to the Bundeswehr, who added that they will take place “in European airspace.” According to the statement, the US will supply 100 of the aircraft from its stockpile. According to Berlin, the drills will take place mostly over German territory, though a Bundeswehr map shows that the airspace of Estonia, which borders Russia, and Romania, which borders Ukraine, could also be used.
The drills’ plan “is modeled after an Article 5 Assistance scenario,” according to the Bundeswehr, who describes it as “challenging air operations training” for the troops taking part. The exercise aims to “optimize” cooperation among participating nations and demonstrate the military bloc’s “strength.”
The drills will be attended by 24 nations, including Finland, which only recently joined NATO. Sweden, which has yet to join the EU, will also take part in the exercise.
The US Air National Guard will supply roughly half of the aircraft for the German-led exercise in June. During the drills, its commander, Lieutenant General Michael Loh, insisted that there is no set scenario pitting NATO forces against a specific adversary. Nonetheless, he mentioned Moscow during a briefing on the subject earlier this week.
“This is now about quickly putting the alliance together with a credible force to make sure that if Russia ever lines up on the NATO border, we’re ready to go,” he said on Wednesday. “We’re going to defend every inch of ground.”
The German Air Force struck a similar tone. “We’re not going to write [Russia] a letter,” said its commander, Lieutenant General Ingo Gerhartz, adding that he believes “they get the message.”