Astral Knight 2024: NATO allies practice collective defence capabilities

Story by Allied Air Command Public Affairs Office based on input provided by U.S. Air Forces in Europe

Allied Nations came together across three operating bases in Lithuania, Poland, and Romania as part of the U.S.-led multinational exercise Astral Knight 2024 from May 6 to 16, 2024.


5,000 personnel and over 50 aircraft from six Allied nations participated in the exercise focused on development and employment of the theatre-wide, Integrated Air and Missile Defence (IAMD) architecture. The exercise featured live flying and simulated combat scenarios, concentrated in Poland and the Baltic States.

“Astral Knight demonstrates the collective defence capabilities of NATO Allies across Europe,” said General James Hecker, NATO Allied Air Command commander. “By fostering early collaboration and integration in air and missile defence efforts among NATO nations, we enhance our ability to deter and respond effectively to shared threats,” he added.

Exercises such as Astral Knight provide a valuable opportunity for Allies to test the deployment and sustainment of IAMD systems, assets and capabilities, while exercising defence plans for distributed air operations through the Agile Combat Employment concept.



Later this year Allied Air Command will conduct the first iteration of the NATO Ramstein Flag exercise series at Andravida Air Base in Greece. This exercise will build on and hone IAMD concepts incorporating Counter-Anti Access/Area Denial – tactics to further demonstrate that NATO defence against current and future threats.

IAMD is a collaborative effort and a key pillar of NATO’s collective defence ensuring Allied populations remain safe whilst continuing to promote regional security and stability.

NATO’s IAMD system is comprised of a network of interconnected national and NATO systems of sensors, command and control assets, and weapons systems. The Alliance conducts IAMD using a 360-degree approach across NATO territory and is prepared to address the full spectrum of threats.



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