Published: 11:39, June 13, 2023 | Updated: 13:03, June 13, 2023
NATO begins its biggest ever air exercise
By Xinhua

Two Airbus A400M of the German Air Force fly over Wunstorf Air Base in Wunstorf, Germany, June 12, 2023, during the Air Defender 2023 exercise. (PHOTO / AP)

BERLIN - The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on Monday started Air Defender 2023, its largest ever air force deployment exercise.

Major airports in Germany are planning for unscheduled late-night takeoffs during the exercise as a precautionary measure

The German-led drill brings together 25 NATO nations with Germany's leadership. The maneuver had been in the planning since 2018.

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Some 10,000 soldiers and 250 aircraft, including 70 from Germany and more than 100 from the United States, take part in the maneuver until June 23.

About 300 people protested against the exercise in northern Germany on Saturday, saying that it "underscores the rejection of negotiations with Russia and further escalates an already threatening situation."

Germany's civil aviation industry, which has seen major strikes in recent months, is fearing cancellations as a result of the military exercise. Despite claims from the military that no flight cancellations are to be expected, Matthias Maas, head of the German air traffic control union (GdF), said such claims are "unrealistic and have no basis in fact."

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Major airports in Germany are planning for unscheduled late-night takeoffs during the exercise as a precautionary measure.