NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg met and thanked personnel participating in exercise Air Defender 2023 together with the German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius at Air Base Jagel in northern Germany on Tuesday (20 June 2023).
Recalling the importance of air defence, the Secretary General explained this exercise shows “NATO is ready to defend every inch of Allied territory, and every inch of Allied airspace”, with forces from Europe and North America training together. “It is a strong display of Germany’s commitment and capabilities,” he said.
Among the personnel the Secretary General met were pilots and crews from Germany, the United States, Türkiye, NATO’s newest member Finland, invitee Sweden, and partner country Japan. He stressed that the German-led Air Defender exercise also demonstrates the strong bond between Europe and North America, working together in NATO. The largest multinational air defence exercise in NATO’s history brings around 10,000 personnel and 250 aircraft from 25 countries, including around 100 aircraft from 35 different U.S. states, training together in the airspace over Europe.
Together with the German Defence Minister Pistorius, the Secretary General also visited the Flensburger Fahrzeugbau Gesellschaft (FFG) and commended their work in support of Ukraine, including with maintenance and refurbishment of Leopard 1 battle tanks, armoured personnel carriers and mine-clearing vehicles.
“This is the biggest provider in Europe of combat vehicles to Ukraine,” Stoltenberg said, stressing that the work done by the German defence industry is of critical importance to Ukraine’s continued success on the battlefield.