NATO announced that the nuclear deterrence exercise Steadfast Noon, which takes place every year in October, will be held in Italy and Croatia in the Mediterranean this year. NATO Secretary GeneralJens Stoltenberg stated that the exercise is "a routine event that takes place every year in October".
"The Steadfast Noon exercise will help ensure the reliability, effectiveness, and security of our nuclear deterrent and send a clear message that NATO will protect and defend all its allies," Stoltenberg said.
Stoltenberg emphasized that Russia's war against Ukraine has once again demonstrated the important role of NATO nuclear weapons in deterrence. In addition to fighter jets capable of carrying nuclear warheads, conventional fighter jets, reconnaissance, and tanker aircraft will participate in the exercise. It was reported that this year, as always, the warplanes will not carry nuclear bombs.
NATO has not yet made an official statement on the scenario and details of the exercises. However, it is known that these exercises involve the safe removal of United States (US) atomic bombs from underground warehouses, and their transport to and assembly on fighter aircraft. NATO members are obliged to have fighter aircraft capable of carrying atomic bombs in their inventories within the framework of the nuclear deterrence concept.
Three NATO members, the United States, the United Kingdom, and France, are among the world's nuclear powers. US atomic bombs are allegedly located in Türkiye, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany, although this has never been officially confirmed or denied.
The Steadfast Noon exercise was hosted by Belgium between October 17-30 last year in the skies over the United Kingdom and the North Sea, and 60 aircraft from 14 countries participated in the exercise. A different member country hosts the exercise every year.