The Hungarian air force is participating in NATO’s largest ever air deployment exercise in Germany between 12-23 June. During Air Defender 2023, 10,000 personnel from 25 nations are practicing air operations in European airspace with 250 aircraft in the spirit of transatlantic solidarity. The Hungarian Defence Forces are present at the international training event with five JAS 39 Gripen fighters and 48 airmen.
In recent days, among other tasks, the Gripens of the Hungarian Defence Forces carried out the Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) exercise in cooperation with the Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO) and the US Sixth Fleet deployed on the Baltic Sea. During the more than two-hour flight, the pilots of Puma Squadron – flying in formations with F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and EA-18G Growler aircraft of the US Navy – practiced the aerial protection and attack of the fleet, while gaining valuable experiences of the characteristics of flying over international waters in international airspace as well as the performance of tactical missions above the open sea.
The most important objective of AD 2023 is to increase and expand interoperability among the armed forces involved and showcase the Alliance’s air power. The drills are being carried out primarily over the North Sea, the Baltic Sea and Southern Germany. The exercise is aimed at harmonizing communication and exchanging tactics, techniques and procedures among the 25 participating nations, as well as at boosting their preparedness and ability to protect against aircraft, drones and missile attacks on cities and critical infrastructure. Further phases of the training will also include the air support of land forces and evacuation missions.
The Hungarian Gripens are carrying out their missions in Composite Air Operations (COMAO), when up to a hundred aircraft are flying and cooperating in these formations in the same airspace. Four Hungarian aircraft take off each day, one such highly complex mission lasts two hours on average, and the current scenario determines whether the Hungarian airmen are assigned to the attacking red or to the defending blue force.
All members – including ground crews – of the contingent of the Hungarian Defence Forces are doing their job professionally, and the Hungarian contingent’s performance is convincing. The volume of Exercise AD 2023 allows them to practice a lot of things and to train themselves; moreover, they can even insert domestic training tasks into the missions flown. Exercise Air Defender 2023 demonstrates that NATO is capable of “swift decisive action” in emergencies, and provides the North Atlantic Treaty Organization with the opportunity to increase its readiness and defence capability through joint training.
“Air Defender sends a clear message that NATO is ready to defend every inch of Allied territory”, said NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu, adding, “Air Defender is necessary because we live in a more dangerous world. As we face the biggest security crisis in a generation, we stand united to keep our countries and our people safe.”