The Bundeswehr's A400M transport aircraft is located on the premises of Tactical Air Force Squadron 73 "Steinhoff". © Jens Büttner/dpa
With about 2000,23 planned training flights within ten days, "Air Defender <>" is considered the largest air force exercise in the history of NATO. The Left sees the manoeuvre as a military demonstration of power against the backdrop of the Ukraine war.
Berlin/Schwerin - The ten-day Luftwaffe maneuver "Air Defender 23" is already causing discussions before the start next Monday. The military leadership of the largest air force exercise in NATO's history on Wednesday countered fears that the military flights will have a greater impact on civilian air traffic over Germany. "This will be in the range of minutes at most," assured the inspector of the German Air Force, Ingo Gerhartz, at a press conference in Berlin.
The Left state associations of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Brandenburg criticized the maneuver as a military demonstration of power and announced a so-called peace hike in the Free Heath near Wittstock for Sunday. According to her, both federal states will be among the main overflight areas.
Germany is conducting the "Air Defender 23" maneuver. 25 countries - mainly from NATO - are involved with 250 aircraft and almost 10,000 soldiers. About 2000 flights are planned. The director of the U.S. National Guard, Michael Loh, also does not expect major disruptions to civilian air traffic. "We're expecting minimal disruption," he said.
The air traffic controllers' union GdF had previously made a different forecast. "The military exercise "Air Defender" will of course have a massive impact on the course of civil aviation," said its chairman Matthias Maas of the German Press Agency. He referred to a scenario calculated by the European air navigation service provider Eurocontrol, which shows up to 50,000 minutes of delay per day of manoeuvres.
The former Bombodrome near Wittstock on the border between Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Brandenburg is considered a symbolic place. After massive protests in the region, the Luftwaffe declared in 2009 that it would not use the area in the Kyritz-Ruppiner Heide as an air/ground shooting range. "The Free Heath was fought for with years of peaceful resistance to its use as a bombodrome. Now it is once again becoming an overflight area for the largest air force maneuver since NATO was founded. We cannot and do not want to accept this unchallenged," says a statement from the Left Party distributed in Schwerin.
The call for peace migration condemns the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine and calls for the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukrainian territory. "But we do not accept that this war of aggression is being used by NATO and its allies as a justification for an unprecedented militarization of foreign policy and a new arms race," it says. De-escalation and diplomacy are the order of the day.
U.S. Ambassador Amy Gutmann sees the upcoming air force maneuver as a signal of NATO's strength to Russian President Vladimir Putin. "I would be very surprised if any head of state in the world did not take note of what this (the maneuver) shows in relation to the spirit of this alliance, that is, the strength of this alliance. And that includes Mr. Putin," Gutmann said Wednesday at a press conference with representatives of the German and U.S. air forces in Berlin. Dpa