NATO is conducting an annual exercise called Steadfast Noon, which began on October 18, during which a nuclear war scenario will be tested. They are attended by 14 European countries, including Germany. Dozens of aircraft have been deployed, including nuclear-armed fighters, warplanes, and tankers and reconnaissance aircraft, according to the Swiss Telegraph Agency (SDA).
The details of the maneuvers are highly classified, but analysis of flight data by Danish nuclear weapons expert Han Christensen suggests that the exercise this year is taking place in airspace over the southern territory of the alliance.
This means that, among other things, the use of US B61 nuclear bombs, which, according to unconfirmed reports, are stored at the Gedi military airbase in northern Italy, could be practiced. However, training flights will be carried out without bombs. On Monday, a German Tornado combat aircraft capable of transporting nuclear weapons landed here.
“Given the deteriorating security conditions in Europe, a reliable and united nuclear alliance is critical,” NATO said in a press release, adding that the number of nuclear weapons on European soil has been drastically reduced since the end of the Cold War.
NATO’s nuclear policy provides that partner countries can use US warheads deployed in Europe in an emergency. According to officially unconfirmed reports, American atomic weapons are stationed in Belgium, Turkey, the Netherlands, as well as in Büchel in the federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate.
“Those who practice nuclear war in 2021 did not recognize the signs of the times, because in a nuclear war there can be no winners, only losers. Let’s demonstrate together against the maneuvers of nuclear war and for a world without nuclear weapons,” the German Peace Initiative (Netzwerk Friedenskooperative).
At the airbases of Kleine-Brogel (Belgium), Volkel (Netherlands), Aviano (Italy) and Incirlik (Turkey), 20 nuclear bombs are also stored under the protection of American military personnel.
The bombs can be used by the F-35, Tornado and F / A-18 tactical fighter-bombers.
In 2022, US nuclear bombs are planned to be replaced with new versions – B61-12 (with a capacity of 0.3, 1.5, 10 or 50 kilotons). In 2015, this modification without a warhead was tested in the US state of Nevada. Deployment is planned at NATO bases in Europe starting in 2022.
Experts note that the peculiarity of the new aerial bomb, which can replace the old models, is in the tail unit. It makes the bomb manageable and more accurate, which makes it possible not to lower it with a parachute, but to dump the charge from an aircraft flying at high altitude, after which the bomb autonomously plans many kilometers towards the target, if necessary, “taxiing” towards it.
In early October, four supersonic strategic bombers B-1В Lancer (Lancer) capable of carrying nuclear weapons were deployed from the United States to the British airbase Fairford. They are already carrying out the tasks of coordinating actions with the aircraft controllers of the Baltic countries – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – to deliver strikes against ground targets.
Activists demand the abolition of the Resilient Noon maneuvers, the withdrawal of nuclear weapons from Germany, and an end to nuclear rearmament programs.
It is also noted that huge amounts of money are spent on nuclear warfare exercises and nuclear weapons that might be needed elsewhere. Thus, the cost of new nuclear bombs B61-12 will total about 10 billion dollars, and more than 8 billion euros have been budgeted for new bombers for the Bundeswehr. By comparison, bombing money could fund hospital beds for more than 1 million people.