NATO has begun annual military exercises involving nuclear weapons, a NATO spokesman said on Monday, Oct. 16.
Up to 60 aircraft will be involved in the “Steadfast Noon” exercise, which will run until Thursday next week. The craft involved include modern fighter jets, but also surveillance and tanker aircraft, as well as long-range B-52 bombers.
This year’s maneuvers are taking place mainly in the airspace over Italy, Croatia and the Mediterranean Sea. A total of 13 alliance members, including Germany, are taking part in the exercises.
Steadfast Noon is an annual two-week training exercise for member countries in handling nuclear weapons. Last year, it was hosted by Belgium, which involved training flights over Belgium, the U.K. and the North Sea.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said last week that Steadfast Noon will help ensure the “credibility, effectiveness and security” of the alliance’s nuclear deterrent forces.
“It sends a clear message that NATO will protect and defend all Allies,” he added at the time.
Stoltenberg also called Moscow’s threats to withdraw the ratification of the nuclear test ban treaty irresponsible, and noted that there were no changes in the deployment of Russian nuclear forces.