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NATO Air Defender 23 Exercise Now Underway

June 12, 2023, 2022 (EIRNS)—NATO’s Air Defender 23 exercise kicked off today in Germany. Deutsche Welle (DW) described it, not as the largest air exercise since the end of the Cold War, but the largest in the history of the alliance. It will take place in three zones over Germany; one in the north of the country stretching out to the North Sea, one in the east and one in the south. It will also involve two air corridors: one from northern Germany to Estonia, and the second running from southern Germany to Romania.

For most Europeans who become conscious of the exercise, it will be in the form of irritating flight delays, as those air spaces will be closed to commercial air traffic for several hours each day. The delays as described by DW and London’s Independent, don’t sound huge—the diversion of flight paths by 70 miles or so and the lengthening of flights by just a few minutes—but will have a cascading effect on schedules, particularly of budget carriers such as Ryanair. “Regular air traffic is part of the challenge, as the skies above Europe are among the busiest flight paths in the world,” reports DW. “Aviation experts are watching to see whether civilian air traffic can continue to run mostly unaffected, in parallel with Air Defender 23.”

“Effectively, NATO is putting up roadblocks in the sky. Large swathes of airspace above Germany and neighboring countries will be closed to civil aircraft during the multinational exercise—which runs from Monday 12 to Thursday 22 June inclusive (though with the weekend of Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 June off),” reports the Independent. “Civilian pilots must navigate around three main ‘clusters,’ where flying is restricted or forbidden at various altitudes. Each will be closed or heavily restricted for civilian traffic for several hours each day.”

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