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Author Topic: Air force flies warheads over the US  (Read 910 times)

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Offline VekseidTopic starter

Air force flies warheads over the US
« on: September 06, 2007, 09:59:23 AM »
And people are not happy

Quote from: article
WASHINGTON -

A B-52 bomber was mistakenly armed with six nuclear warheads and flown for more than three hours across several states last week, prompting an Air Force investigation and the firing of one commander, Pentagon officials said Wednesday.

The incident was so serious that President Bush and Defense Secretary Robert Gates were quickly informed and Gates has asked for daily briefings on the Air Force probe, said Defense Department press secretary Geoff Morrell. He said, "At no time was the public in danger."

Rep. Ike Skelton, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, called the mishandling of the weapons "deeply disturbing" and said the committee would press the military for details. Rep. Edward J. Markey, a senior member of the Homeland Security committee, said it was "absolutely inexcusable."

"Nothing like this has ever been reported before and we have been assured for decades that it was impossible," said Markey, D-Mass., co-chair of the House task force on nonproliferation.

The plane was carrying Advanced Cruise Missiles from Minot Air Force Base, N.D, to Barksdale Air Force Base, La., on Aug. 30, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of a Defense Department policy not to confirm information on nuclear weapons.

The missiles, which are being decommissioned, were mounted onto pylons on the bomber's wings and it is unclear why the warheads had not been removed beforehand.

The Air Combat Command has ordered a command-wide stand down on Sept. 14 to review procedures, officials said. They said there was minimal risk to crews and the public because of safety features designed into the munitions.

In addition to the munitions squadron commander who was relieved of his duties, crews involved with the mistaken load - including ground crew workers - have been temporarily decertified for handling munitions, one official said.

The investigation is expected to take several weeks.

The incident was first reported by Military Times newspaper group.

"There is no more serious issue than the security and proper handling of nuclear weapons," Skelton said in a statement Wednesday. "The American people, our friends, and our potential adversaries must be confident that the highest standards are in place when it comes to our nuclear arsenal."

Skelton, D-Mo., said his committee will pursue answers on the classified matter "to ensure that the Air Force and the Department of Defense address this particular incident and strengthen controls more generally."

Offline Archangel

Re: Air force flies warheads over the US
« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2007, 10:06:10 AM »
Was Jack Bauer on board ?  ;D

Offline Swedish Steel

Re: Air force flies warheads over the US
« Reply #2 on: September 06, 2007, 11:13:27 AM »
No, but Steve Rogers were, apperantly.

Offline Hunter

Re: Air force flies warheads over the US
« Reply #3 on: September 06, 2007, 05:05:43 PM »
Ummm...this is news HOW??   ???

My understanding is that it happens all the time.

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Re: Air force flies warheads over the US
« Reply #4 on: September 06, 2007, 06:11:08 PM »
Presumably the other times they do it, they meant to.

Offline VekseidTopic starter

Re: Air force flies warheads over the US
« Reply #5 on: September 06, 2007, 06:11:27 PM »
When was the last time the US lost track of multiple nukes?

Offline RubySlippers

Re: Air force flies warheads over the US
« Reply #6 on: September 06, 2007, 09:41:22 PM »
They were is US custody so what was the problem that's what those bombers were designed for.

Offline kongming

Re: Air force flies warheads over the US
« Reply #7 on: September 07, 2007, 04:11:46 AM »
When was the last time the US lost track of multiple nukes?

The movie "Broken Arrow" ;)

Now if you want losing track of nukes, might I point you towards Russia, who took an interesting approach to guarding things. In Sovjet Russia, warhead guards YOU!

Quote from: RubySlippers
They were is US custody so what was the problem that's what those bombers were designed for.

The problem was that they lost track of them. Although they were in no danger of falling into enemy hands, the fact is that that kind of disorganisation could lead to missiles going missing - being stolen or simply lost and later found by the wrong people (i.e. anyone). So this time the missiles were safe - on a US bomber piloted by US crew that are loyal to the US and had no intention of dropping/launching them. What about next time? Because of the measures being taken, there probably won't be a next time, which is good.

Also, it sends a message to the world at large. The message is "We're bumbling about and don't keep track of our weapons of mass destruction. You don't actually need to take us seriously." Because of the response by the higher-ups, the message is more likely to be "A mistake was made, and you shouldn't count on it happening again."

Offline Elvi

Re: Air force flies warheads over the US
« Reply #8 on: September 07, 2007, 04:34:48 AM »
There is also protocol to think about, there are certain rules about where planes equiped with nuclear armourments fly.

Planes do have accidents, they do crash, so they don't fly over built up areas with things that could cause a damned sight more harm than just a plane dropping out of the sky.

Kong is right, the immediate responce and recognition of what could have happened, has given a far better message than "Yeah well, it happens".

Offline kongming

Re: Air force flies warheads over the US
« Reply #9 on: September 07, 2007, 04:43:43 AM »
True, Elvi - although it's really hard to make an atom bomb explode unless it wants to (see: is armed), if an accident happened, well, they might have needed to hire a new cartographer. And the problem there isn't in finding cartographers, it's in the tens of millions of lives lost.

Offline VekseidTopic starter

Re: Air force flies warheads over the US
« Reply #10 on: September 07, 2007, 07:12:40 AM »
Crashing a bunch of plutonium is mainly a PR issue (witness one scientist's challenge to eat an equal amount of plutonium as Ralph Nader would eat caffiene).

Offline Zaer Darkwail

Re: Air force flies warheads over the US
« Reply #11 on: October 03, 2007, 08:39:22 AM »
Aye, reason for such big PR talk and lecture is because 'what if' factor and losing nukes is BIG issue to US (or anyone really) when consider there are more than one terrorist group who would get evilgasm if they would get hands even ONE fully operational top teknology nuke (instead 'backyard' versions).

Offline kongming

Re: Air force flies warheads over the US
« Reply #12 on: October 03, 2007, 08:51:00 AM »
Yeah, I saw the thing on eating plutonium.

"It's poisonous!"
"No it isn't, and I'll prove it by eating some."
"You can't do that, it's poisonous!"