GERMAN-LED LIVE-FLY EXERCISE AIR DEFENDER 2023 - Acros Germany June 12-24, 2023

Source: Story by Allied Air Command Public Affairs Office based on information provided by Air Defender 2023 Public Affairs Office.

BERLIN, Germany – Exercise Air Defender 2023 (AD23) is a German-led, multinational exercise focusing on operational and tactical-level live-flying and will take place across Germany from June 12-24, 2023.

We want to demonstrate the agility and swiftness of Air Forces as a first responder and showcase NATO Air Power.

AD23 involves Air Forces from 24 Nations and 220 aircraft. The German Air Force ensures command and control of air operations during the exercise. It will be combined in time and space with the German-led Multinational Air Group Exercise (MAGDAYS 23) and linked to two NATO exercises (RAMSTEIN DUST 23 and RAMSTEIN GUARD 23).

“Our goals for this largest deployment exercise since the foundation of NATO are comprehensive,” said Lieutenant General Ingo Gerhartz, Chief German Air Force. “We want to demonstrate the agility and swiftness of Air Forces as a first responder and showcase NATO Air Power. In addition, we as the Luftwaffe show that we can plan, organise and execute such a large exercise. We take responsibility. The collaboration of 24 Nations hones our interoperability and enables a credible deterrence against a potential aggressor. The transatlantic dimension – we will have 100 US Air National Guard aircraft flying in Europe – is a rock-solid proof of NATO cohesion and solidarity,” Lieutenant General Gerhartz concluded underlining the importance of Germany as a hub for Allied defensive operations within Europe.

The German Air Force and the United States Air National Guard are the key players during exercise Air Defender 23 and will be joined by 22 other Nations conducting operational and tactical-level live-flying in Europe this summer. 

Participating Air Forces will be exposed to training scenarios simulating a NATO Article 5 scenario, i.e. collective defence of Alliance territory. Following the arrival and bed-down 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 the Czech Republic, the 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, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Finland, France, Italy, Japan, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Romania, Sweden, Slovenia, Spain, Czech Republic, Turkey, Hungary, the United Kingdom, and the United States will be flying in AD23. 

The training areas in the east, south and north of Germany used during AD23 are based on areas that the Air Force has used for routine training for decades. However, to accommodate comprehensive large-force flying activities they have been expanded and partly connected with each other by corridors. 

“With AD23 we practice a wide spectrum of Air Operations via large daily COMAOs and underscore Germany’s capability to ensure command and control of multinational Air Forces,” said Lieutenant General Gerhartz. “Another important aspect is to facilitate continuation training for Air Force units and reinforcing our cooperative bond with the eastern flank of NATO by conducting Air Defence mission in the Czech Republic airspace to reinforce the cooperative bond with east,” he added. 

While large-scale training is essential to maintain a credible deterrence and defence capability of Allied Air Forces, the German Air Force is making efforts to minimise the impact of AD23 on the population. The three air exercise areas will only be used for two to four hours a day at various times and, for safety reasons, closed for civilian air traffic during these time windows. In close cooperation with the authorities responsible for flight safety processes and procedures are currently being optimized to minimise the effects on civilian air traffic as much as possible. 

Story by Allied Air Command Public Affairs Office based on information provided by Air Defender 2023 Public Affairs Office.

Foreign participants

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F-16C 87-0229/CO from the 120th FS with 100 years First in the Air Guard tail markings.

ex 100th FS F-16C 87-0336/AL 'ALABAMA' with red tail, now part of the 120th FS/Colorado ANG. 

On final on the 13th of June 2023 is A-10C 80-0221/MI, one of the six 107th FS A-10Cs participated in AD2023.

Two South Dakota ANG F-16Cs, 88-0452 and 89-2125, both from the 175th FS 'LOBOS'.

F-16C 86-0370/CO 120th FS 'Mile High Militia'.

Both 120th FS F-16Cs are ready for a new mission on the 12th of June 2023. In front is 87-0229 with '100 years First in the Air Guard' tail markings.

The Hungarian AF was present with three JAS-39Cs and one JAS-39D. On final is JAS-39C 39.

Three Turkish AF F-16Cs participated, all from the 151st Filo, 89-0026 included.

The commander's 175th Wing A-10C is 79-0175/MD "COM 175th WG'". The 104th FS operates with their A-10Cs under the 175th. In the first week of the exercise they operated from Ämari (Estonia).

Local TLG51 Tornado IDS 44+69 shows two different tail markings with reference to the leading countries of Air Defender 2023, Germany and USA.


Impressive afterburner take-off of F-15C 84-0022/JZ from the 122nd FS/Louisiana ANG. The right photo shows 83-0010/JZ.

On final F-15C 84-0010/MA from the 131st FS/Massachusetts ANG.

F-15C 85-0110/ZZ is still wearing 44th FS markings, but is part of the 131st FS/Massachusetts ANG.

The CAG-bird from VAQ-142 is EA-18G BuNO 166943/AJ-500 "Grey Wolves" ready for a new mission. VAQ-142 was deployed aboard carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) as part of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8 and arrived at Jagel on the 31st of May 2023.

Also from the carrier USS Gerald R. Ford is F/A-18E BuNo 169398/AJ-404 from VFA-87. F/A-18Fs from VFA-213 and F/A-18Es from VFA-31 and VFA-37 completed the USN participation.

Full in focus on the 14th of June is F/A-18F BuNo 168930/AJ-213 from VFA-213. 

On final Finnish AF F/A-18C HN-437 from HävLLv 31 - Kuopio/Rissala.

VFA-37 was one of the three F/A-18E units participating in AD2023. Only one a/c of this unit was present, BuNo 166867/AJ-107. 

Four Typhoon FGR4s were active only in the first week of the exercise, including ZK347/347, all from RAF Lossiemouth/1 Sqn.

Still in 85th TES markings is F-15C 85-0126/OT, but it now belongs to the 131st FS of the Massachusetts ANG.


Texas ANG - C-130J 17-5904  - 181st AS -  Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, photographed at Hohn on the 14th of June 2023.

Illinois ANG - C-130H 92-1451 - 169th AS - Peoria ANGB.

Based LTG62 A400M 54+21 in special Air Defender 2023 color scheme.

Georgia ANG - C-130H 93-1562 - 158th AS -  Savannah ANGB.

Nevada ANG - C-130H 92-0553 - 192nd AS - Nevada ANGB, Reno.

Deployments at other bases

(with thanks to Scramble Messageboard)








Slideshow Hohn, Jagel and Wunstorf