Steadfast Noon. From October 17th to October 30th 2022, NATO Air Forces will test the alliance’s nuclear deterrence capabilities by scrambling over North-Western Europe.
- The simulation, dubbed Steadfast Noon, occurs annually. This year it will take place in Belgium (the host country), the United Kingdom, and the North Sea.
- This year’s exercise will involve 14 countries and 60 aircraft types including fighter jets, surveillance and tanker aircrafts. No live weapons will be used, as NATO sources explain. B-52 long-range bombers will also take part, flying in from North Dakota.
Think strategically. NATO’s latest Strategic Concept, adopted at the Madrid Summit in June, states the alliance’s nuclear capability is intended to “preserve peace, prevent coercion, deter aggression.”
- The exercise was scheduled much before Russia invaded Ukraine, and suspending it would send “a wrong message to Moscow”, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg highlighted.
- “It is routine training to keep our deterrent safe, secure and effective. We are closely monitoring Russia’s nuclear forces and have not noticed any change in Russia’s position,” he stated.
Rome’s role. Italy hosts roughly fifty-five US B61 tactical nuclear weapons. The actual number is classified. Also, US Carrier Bush is now in the Ionian Sea, close to southern Italian shores. Eyes will be on the Italian city of Foggia, in Apulia, which is hosting the first F-35A aircraft able to carry nuclear weapons, slated to replace the Tornados soon.
- Between 3 and 27 October, the Italian Navy’s exercise Mare Aperto aims to enhance situational awareness and strengthen the capabilities of the participating forces in the Mediterranean Sea region.
- The US and Spanish naval vessels, deployed under Standing Nato Maritime Group 2, joined the exercise. Forces from five NATO nations are involved: ships and submarines, aircraft, helicopters, and the amphibious units of the San Marco Marine Brigade and the Comsubin raiders and divers.
- Around 4,000 military personnel and more than 45 ships and submarines are deployed at sea, in the air and on land.