NATO kicked off its annual deterrence exercise on Monday (18 October 2021), with dozens of aircraft from across the Alliance practicing the defence of NATO’s European Allies. The week-long exercise, called “Steadfast Noon”, is taking place over southern Europe, and involves aircraft and personnel from 14 NATO countries.
The exercise is a routine, recurring training activity and it is not linked to any current world events. It is hosted by a different NATO country each year. Steadfast Noon involves training flights with dual-capable fighter jets, as well as conventional jets, backed by surveillance and refuelling aircraft. No live weapons are used. This exercise helps to ensure that NATO’s nuclear deterrent remains safe, secure and effective.
At the NATO Summit in June, Allied Heads of State and Government declared that “the fundamental purpose of NATO’s nuclear capability is to preserve peace, prevent coercion, and deter aggression”. They also stated that “given the deteriorating security environment in Europe, a credible and united nuclear Alliance is essential.” At the same time, Allied leaders emphasised that “NATO has a long track record of doing its part on disarmament and non-proliferation. After the end of the Cold War, NATO dramatically reduced the number of nuclear weapons stationed in Europe and its reliance on nuclear weapons in NATO strategy.”