The German Luftwaffe took part in secretive drills codenamed "Steadfast Noon", which involved the use of aircraft designed to carry nuclear weapons at times of war, Deutschen-Presse Agentur has reported. According to the news agency, the drills took place at Nörvenich Air Base in North Rhine-Westphalia land of Germany, which is believed to be a possible site hosting the US missiles, allegedly deployed in the country.
The DPA said the Luftwaffe was not using the actual nukes in the military exercise, but were rather practising the transportation of these armaments from the underground warehouses where they are purportedly stored, and training in attaching them to nuclear-capable aircraft.
The "Steadfast Noon" drills reportedly take part every year, and are used to train NATO forces in nuclear war scenarios. This year they coincided with the "Resilient Guard" exercises, which take part at Buchel Air Base – another site suspected of hosting the alleged US nuclear arsenal stored in the country. As part of the Resilient Guard war games, the German Air Force trained in defending the base against aerial attack using the American Patriot missile systems.
This year's alleged "Steadfast Noon" military drills come amid concerns over the recent uptick in tensions between global nuclear powers. The US decision to withdraw from the Intermediate‑Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in August 2019 and the unclear prospects of the New START treaty, which expires in 2021, contribute to these concerns.
The INF accord limited Russia and the US' ability to develop missile systems operating in ranges between 500 and 5500 kilometres, while the New START treaty has been constraining the two states' nuclear arsenals. Washington hinted that it might restore the INF if China joins the accord and was trying to draw Beijing into negotiations with Russia related to the extension of the New START accord. China, however, stressed that it has neither the interest nor the need to take part in either of these accords since its nuclear arsenal is far smaller compared to the Russian and American ones.