TechSteadfast Noon 23. Europe is a NATO's nuclear testing ground

Steadfast Noon 23. Europe is a NATO's nuclear testing ground

B-52H Bombers - Illustrative photo
B-52H Bombers - Illustrative photo
Images source: © public domain | Senior Airman Tessa Corrick
ed. KMO

11:07 AM EDT, October 17, 2023

On Monday, October 16th, an annual NATO nuclear exercise known as "Steadfast Noon" is set to begin in Southern Europe. These exercises, which have been a routine training activity conducted by the alliance for over a decade, will involve up to 60 aircraft, including advanced fighters and American B-52 bombers.

As reported by NATO, planes capable of carrying nuclear weapons are participating in the exercises, but they are not equipped with armed bombs. The exercises will involve 13 member countries and many types of aircraft, including advanced fighters and American B-52 bombers, which will fly in from the United States.

NATO nuclear exercises "Steadfast Noon"

Conventional jets as well as reconnaissance and refueling aircraft are also participating in the maneuvers. Every year, a different NATO allay hosts "Steadfast Noon". Training flights will take place over Italy, Croatia, and the Mediterranean Sea - NATO informed.

The Secretary General of the alliance, Jens Stoltenberg, emphasized that these exercises aim to ensure the "credibility, effectiveness, and safety of our nuclear deterrence, and will send a clear signal that NATO will protect and defend all allies". Stoltenberg noted that Russia's conflict with Ukraine reminds us of the key role that NATO's nuclear weapons play in deterrence.

NATO emphasizes that the exercises "are not related to current world events, and most of the training takes place at least 621 miles from the Russian borders".

"The NATO Strategic Concept clearly states that the primary purpose of NATO's nuclear potential is to maintain peace, prevent coercion, and deter aggression. It indicates that as long as nuclear weapons exist, NATO will remain a nuclear alliance" - emphasized.

The maneuvers will last until October 26th, giving allied armed forces the opportunity to improve their skills and procedures related to nuclear weapons.

B-52 Bombers in Europe

In NATO nuclear exercises codenamed "Steadfast Noon", B-52 Stratofortress bombers will participate. These are heavy long-range machines designed to carry out various missions, including strategic attacks, in-air interceptions, and offensive maritime and anti-aircraft operations. The B-52 is 159 feet long, 41 feet high, and the wingspan of its wings is 185 feet. The bomber is equipped with 8 Pratt & Whitney TF33-P-3/103 turbofans. It can fly at speeds exceeding even 621 miles per hour at a maximum altitude of over 49, 213 feet.

The machine has advanced targeting and recognition containers, which significantly increase the combat effectiveness of the B-52 even in difficult weather conditions. Additionally, the bomber can be refueled in mid-air, and its range after one refueling is over 8699 miles. The bomber is suitable for carrying both conventional and nuclear weapons, and in the future also hypersonic weapons. The B-52 can carry a total of over 34 tons of armament.

The bomber, which was created over 70 years ago, remains a significant element of the American fleet of strategic airships to this day, and its appearance evokes many emotions - especially among aviation enthusiasts. It is often said that its deployment to certain regions is sort of a "flexing of muscles" by the United States, a reminder of the power and capabilities of the superpower. Especially as, according to Boeing, the B-52 is "the bomber with the greatest combat capabilities in the US inventory".

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