New York's 105th Airlift Wing Plays Key Role in Air Defender Published June 14, 2023 By Eric Durr and Master Sgt. Patrick Espeut, New York National Guard STEWART AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, NEWBURGH, NEW YORK - Fifty Airmen assigned to the New York Air National Guard's 105th Airlift Wing are taking part in the largest NATO air forces deployment exercise ever held. Air Defender 2023, organized by the German Bundeswehr, involves 10,000 military personnel and 250 aircraft from 25 nations. The exercise officially began June 12 and runs through June 23. The 105th Airlift Wing, which dedicated four C-17 Globemaster III strategic airlifters to the operation, began flying missions to support the exercise on May 29, Memorial Day. The wing flew 10 missions moving Airmen from the Kentucky, Massachusetts, Illinois, Texas, Vermont, Oregon and Pennsylvania National Guard and supplies to Europe. The 105th provided more airlift support for American units participating in Air Defender than any other airlift wing. Airmen with the 105th will fly more missions moving people and equipment from Europe back to the United States after the exercise ends and will conclude those missions before July Fourth. The 105th Airlift Wing's 105th Base Defense Squadron and the wing maintenance squadron deployed Airmen to support the exercise. Stewart Air National Guard Base also served as a staging location for Air Force planes from across the country before they headed to Germany. Aircrews would fly to Stewart and stay overnight before continuing across the Atlantic. The U.S. Air Force is deploying 100 aircraft from 42 states, most of them assigned to the Air National Guard, as part of the exercise. Around 2,000 National Guard Airmen are participating. The aircraft employed range from C-46 tankers to F-16, F-15 and F-35 fighters, to C-17 and C-130 transports. The aircraft deployed to German bases in Wunstorf, Schleswig/Hohn, Geilenkirchen, Spangdahlem, Lechfeld and Neuburg. The exercise scenario calls for NATO air forces to react to an attack on a NATO member. German Air Force officials first conceived of the exercise in 2018, after Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, but four years before the Russian attack on that country.