The German Air Force trains with NATO partners for the horror scenario of a nuclear war. According to information of the German press agency, a secret alliance exercise with the name "Steadfast Noon" began this week. Among other things, the scenario includes the use of fighter bombers which could be equipped with nuclear weapons in the event of war.
The Bundeswehr participates in the exercise with Tornados of the Tactical Air Force Squadron 33. The fighter jets are stationed on Buchel air base in the Eifel region, where, according to unconfirmed information, B61 tactical US nuclear weapons are stored. In the event of an emergency, the B61s could also be dropped by German Tornadoes as part of NATO's "nuclear participation" program, and would then, for example, eliminate opposing forces. Other US nuclear weapons are stored in Italy, Belgium, Turkey and the Netherlands.
Transport and installation of nuclear bombs
According to military experts, the regular "Steadfast Noon" maneuvers include practicing how to safely transport US nuclear weapons from underground magazines to the aircraft and mounting them to the fighter jets. Practice flights, however, are then flown without these nuclear bombs.
According to photos published on the Internet, alongside German jets this year, combat aircraft from Italy, among others, participate in the maneuvers. They began from the Bolkel military airfield in the Netherlands, where like in Büchel US nuclear weapons are stored.
Nuclear rushhour: Coinciding with US B-52s deployed to UK and Russian strategic exercise, NATO has started tactical nuke exercise Steadfast Noon with jets from Germany, Belgium, Holland, Italy, and the United States. https://t.co/QOLWUGQ8T0 Main base appears to be Volkel. pic.twitter.com/IShVZSPkkn— Hans Kristensen (@nukestrat) October 18, 2019
At first, there was no information about the scenario of the exercise. Nuclear weapons expert Hans Kristensen pointed out, however, that the maneuver would take place shortly after the arrival of American B-52 bombers in England. This should not be considered a coincidence, at least by Russia, the head of the "Nuclear Information Project" of the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) told the dpa news agency. The US forces issued a message on the arrival of the aircraft in Gloucestershire, UK, saying, "Opponents watch out: bombers are back and ready to go."
Higher war risk
The danger of a nuclear war is currently much higher than in the past three decades. The reason is, above all, the end of the INF Treaty limiting land-based, nuclear-capable medium-range systems. The US rescinded the agreement in the summer with the backing of its NATO partners, believing that Russia had been violating it for years with a medium-range system called 9M729 (NATO code: SSC-8).
Military experts now expect what could become a new arms race. For example, the US is already working on a new mobile, ground-based, medium-range system that would have been illegal under the INF Treaty. According to current planning, it is intended to transport only conventional - that is, non-atomic - warheads. Whether it stays that way, however, is unclear.