Fourteen member states and up to 60 aircraft will participate in the annual drills, which will last thirteen days and take place in the airspace over Belgium, the North Sea and Britain. They come just ahead of Russia’s annual Grom exercises, where Moscow is expected to test its nuclear-capable bombers, submarines and missiles.
Steadfast Noon takes place in light of continuing Russian military setbacks in Ukraine, raising concerns among analysts and world leaders that Moscow’s rhetoric on resorting to its nuclear arsenal is more than hyperbole. Indeed, while Russia is unlikely to launch a strategic nuclear strike against Ukraine or a NATO country, it has almost 2,000 tactical nuclear weapons at its disposal. These slightly less catastrophic armaments could range from a fraction of a kiloton to 50 kilotons in strength, rendering them more suitable for limited tactical military objectives, such as attacking troop deployments.