NATO began its annual Steadfast Noon nuclear exercise yesterday, Monday, October 16, with up to 60 aircraft participating in training flights over southern Europe. These maneuvers “are not related” to current events.
The exercise is a routine training activity carried out annually for over a decade, the Atlantic Alliance said in a statement.
The exercises involve 13 allied countries and a mix of various aircraft types, including advanced fighters and US B-52 bombers that will fly from the United States.
Conventional fighters and surveillance and refueling aircraft also participate. Each year, a different NATO ally hosts Steadfast Noon, and this time, the training flights will take place over Italy, Croatia and the Mediterranean Sea.
“Our exercise will help ensure the credibility, effectiveness and security of our nuclear deterrent force,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, adding that “it sends a clear message that NATO will protect and defend all allies.”.
Maneuvers “unrelated” to current conflicts
Fighter aircraft capable of carrying nuclear warheads participate in the exercise, but no real bombs are used during the maneuvers.
The Alliance has stressed that these maneuvers “are not linked to world news” and highlights that most of the training takes place more than a thousand kilometers from the Russian borders.
NATO’s strategic concept makes clear that “the fundamental purpose of NATO’s nuclear capability is to preserve peace, prevent coercion and deter aggression.” It emphasizes that “as long as nuclear weapons exist, NATO will remain a nuclear alliance.”
The exercise will last until October 26.