Finland joins NATO’s largest-ever air force drills in Germany

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Finland is participating in the largest air force manoeuvres in the history of NATO officially begun in German air space on Monday.

Twenty-five nations are taking part in two weeks of exercises involving some 10,000 soldiers and 250 aircraft from 25 nations, reported news agency dpa, quoting a German Air Force spokesman.

“Today (Monday) the Hornets have participated in training missions with German Typhoons. This week Finland will participate in air-to-air missions,” said Finnish Air Force in a twitter post.

“The German investment in the Host Nation Support and line maintenance have already been impressive,” said Lt.Col. Rami Lindström.

The Finnish Air Force deploys four F/A-18 Hornets to the AirDefender23 exercise in Germany from June 12 to June 23 June along with 24 other countries, said the Air Force in another twitter post, adding that the Finnish Hornets operate out of the Hohn Air Base in northern Germany.

News agency dpa adds: Led by Germany's Bundeswehr, the so-called Air Defender 2023 drills last until June 23 and are aimed at training how a fictitious attack by an eastern aggressor might be repelled by NATO troops.

Although the manoeuvres are taking place during a raging war between Russia and possible NATO candidate Ukraine, officials from Germany's Air Force say the idea for the drills dates back to 2018, before Russia began its large-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

The German Air Force said it wants to avoid an escalation with regard to Russia. "We are doing everything to ensure that it does not have an escalating effect," the Air Force's inspector, Ingo Gerhartz, told RBB's Inforadio on Monday.

As an example, he said, "We will not make any flights in the direction of Kaliningrad."

Many people, also in his personal environment, told him: "It is good that we show that we are strong, we can defend ourselves, to send the very clear signal: NATO territory is simply the red line," he added.

The manoeuvres are taking place amid a peak in summer air travel, and estimates of the level of disruption to civilian air traffic vary.

Gerhartz said flight delays would be "in the range of minutes at the most," while Matthias Maas of the air traffic controllers' union GdF said the exercises "will of course have a massive impact on civil aviation."

Three airspaces in Germany are directly affected by the exercise: parts of northern Germany and the North Sea, parts of eastern Germany and the Baltic Sea, and parts of south-western Germany.

  •  Finland
  •  NATO
  •  Drills
  •  Germany


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