Turkish pilots participating in NATO exercise earn praise from allies - M5 Dergi
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Turkish pilots participating in NATO exercise earn praise from allies

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Air Defender 2023 Germany was largest multinational air defense exercise in NATO’s history

Turkish pilots in the Air Defender 2023, the largest multinational air defense exercise in NATO’s history, have garnered praise from their fellow American and German participants.

From June 12-23, up to 10,000 exercise participants from 25 nations with 250 aircraft conducted defensive maneuvers in European airspace under the command of the German Air Force.

Türkiye also participated in the exercise with three F-16 aircraft, which flew from the 151st Squadron Command in Merzifon, a Turkish town in Amasya province in the Black Sea region, to Germany, conducting approximately 40 sorties throughout the exercise.

Turkish fighter pilot Col. Ersin Ozmen told Anadolu that the Turkish Air Force participated with three F-16 jets and 56 personnel.

“Our aim was to increase the operational capacity and coordination with NATO member countries,” he said. “For us, it was a great opportunity to demonstrate our combat readiness and enhance our cooperation with NATO members.”

Ozmen added: “We worked mutually with all countries. We carried out missions simultaneously from different airbases. We saw that it is feasible. Such missions will also be performed in a real operational environment. Therefore, it was a valuable training opportunity for us.”

American Lt. Col. Josh Higgins, an F-15 pilot and team commander who came from the US base in New Orleans, said he had several interactions with Turkish pilots during the air drill, and called them “good and professional,” and that they learned while flying together.

A German officer who worked with the Turkish team throughout the exercise also expressed satisfaction with their collaboration. “I had worked with the Turkish team nine years ago. Therefore, I knew what to expect. They were excellent, and the exercise went very well,” he said.

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