June 12, 14 NATO aircraft landed at the Lithuanian Air Force Base in Šiauliai: two IDS Tornado and two EF-2000 on behalf of Germany, two F-16 from Poland, four F-15C, two F-16 and two C-130 on behalf of the United States. The landing is part of the largest air exercise NATO has ever held, Air Defender 23.
“Air Defender 23 is a proof that in the event of a need, NATO support in the air will be there, that we are able to plan, host and coordinate such joint operations. Implementation of any defence plans, from strategic to tactical, requires exercise. Such as we are conducting here,” said Chief of Defence of Lithuania Lt Gen V. Rupšys.
Exercise Air Defence 23 runs on June 12-23 under German Air Force leadership, it involves approx. 10 thousand troops from 25 countries and up to 250 aircraft training in the European airspace. The exercise rehearses response to an attack against a NATO Ally with 23 different types of aircraft, including 100 from the U.S. Air National Guard deployed to Europe from 42 states. The exercise also includes participants from Sweden and Japan.
The Lithuanian Air Force will train planning routine operations and provide coordination flights to Lithuania at the Joint Force Air Component
Photo credits: SSgt Spc Ieva Budzeikaitė | Lithuanian Armed Forces