The air bridge is vital for exercises like Air Defender 2023, where multiple NATO-member air forces and allied countries come together to enhance cooperation, interoperability and readiness. To practice for real defense scenarios, it is imperative that forces can rapidly deploy to different locations.
“Moving 100 aircraft over the ocean in the matter of four or five flying days is a monumental feat,” Dietman said. “Fighter aircraft can’t make it over by themselves, so they need the tankers to build the air bridge to help them get over.”
Air Defender 2023, running June 12-23, is the largest air forces redeployment exercise since NATO was founded.
Engaging in air bridge operations during the AD23 exercise highlights the 128th ARW’s capabilities and demonstrates the U.S. commitment to its allies.
The hard work of everybody working together, whether it’s your unit-level personnel putting together the aircraft, putting the plans together, making sure the funds are full, making sure that everything is going to happen, is awesome,” Dietman said. “From a year’s worth of work that we’ve put into this, I’m super proud of everyone at the 128th Air Refueling Wing and the hard work they’ve done.”