Belgium takes part in NATO nuclear exercise with 3 F-16s
The Belgian Air Force is participating with three F-16 fighter jets in the NATO exercise 'Steadfast Noon', in which air forces train with nuclear deterrent capabilities. The Ministry of Defence confirmed this.
The exercise began on Monday over Italy, Croatia and the Mediterranean and will continue until next Thursday. A total of 160 military personnel are taking part.
NATO had earlier announced the participation of 13 Allies with 60 aircraft in the annual exercise. These include advanced fighter aircraft and observation, tanker and long-range bomber aircraft.
This exercise helps ensure that the Alliance’s nuclear deterrent remains safe, secure and effective
Steadfast Noon is hosted by a different Ally each year. “This exercise helps ensure that the Alliance’s nuclear deterrent remains safe, secure and effective”, said NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu.
NATO's new Strategic Concept, approved by Allied leaders at the Madrid Summit in June, makes clear that the fundamental purpose of NATO's nuclear capability is to preserve peace, prevent coercion and deter aggression. It emphasises that as long as nuclear weapons exist, NATO will remain a nuclear alliance. NATO's goal is a safer world for all. "We seek to create the security environment for a world without nuclear weapons".
Last year's exercise occurred in Belgium, over the North Sea and the UK. Military experts say part of the exercise is to practice safely removing US nuclear weapons from underground storage sites, transporting them to aircraft and assembling them. The training flights will take place without real bombs.
© BELGA PHOTO BENOIT DOPPAGNE