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  1. #1
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    Default Nuclear bombs mistakenly flown over US

    -- http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070905/...omber_warheads

    By PAULINE JELINEK, Associated Press Writer
    Wed Sep 5, 7:09 PM ET

    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 mistake 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 inquiry, said Defense Department press secretary Geoff Morrell.

    He said Gates was assured that "the munitions were part of a routine transfer between the two bases and at all times they were in the custody and control of Air Force personnel and 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.

    According to the officials, the weapons are designed with multiple safety features that ensure the warheads don't accidentally detonate.

    Arming the weapons requires a number of stringent protocols and authentication codes that must be followed for detonation. And they are designed to withstand a significant impact, including an aircraft crash, without detonating.

    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 ó including ground crew workers ó 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."


    This just isn't a mistake, it's insanity. They only word I could muster when I seen this on the local news this evening was WOW.
    Firefighter/EMT
    My words stated here do not necessarily point towards organizations which I am affiliated with.


  2. #2
    MembersZone Subscriber JHR1985's Avatar
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    Default

    Broken Arrow... Broken Arrow

  3. #3
    MembersZone Subscriber mcaldwell's Avatar
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    Hmmmm...

    Are you guys setting up the context for a similar "Mistake" in Iraq.
    Never argue with an Idiot. They drag you down to their level, and then beat you with experience!

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    Disillusioned Subscriber Steamer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mcaldwell View Post
    Hmmmm...

    Are you guys setting up the context for a similar "Mistake" in Iraq.
    Steve Gallagher
    IACOJ BOT
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  5. #5
    Forum Member martinm's Avatar
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    A cynic might say, now you know how the rest of the world feels....
    United Kingdom branch, IACOJ.

  6. #6
    Forum Member Tooanfrom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by martinm View Post
    A cynic might say, now you know how the rest of the world feels....
    I like the "mistakenly flown over the USA" bit--us in the UK had the dubious honour of having nuclear armed American planes taking off and landing from Lakenheath,Mildenhall,Manston( all US bases)--but as this was done deliberately, I suppose it was perfectly OK!



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  7. #7
    Forum Member DeputyMarshal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by martinm View Post
    A cynic might say, now you know how the rest of the world feels....
    And the cynic would be right.

    Does anyone really think that this sort of thing hasn't been occurring since the 50s?

    This is a PR issue and not even remotely a safety issue.
    "Nemo Plus Voluptatis Quam Nos Habant"

    The Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.

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    I'm confused. This was part of a routine munitions transfer. What was the mistake? Of course I'm sure that somehow George Bush is directly responsible for this.

  9. #9
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    I don't understand why this is even a big deal.
    K.I. Sawyer AFB, back in the day, along with every other SAC base that flew bombers carried nukes every day over our country. That was the whole point of having the bombers, and using them as a key part of our defense.

    I sleep better at night knowing they're up there.

  10. #10
    MembersZone Subscriber MalahatTwo7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jasper45 View Post
    I don't understand why this is even a big deal.
    K.I. Sawyer AFB, back in the day, along with every other SAC base that flew bombers carried nukes every day over our country. That was the whole point of having the bombers, and using them as a key part of our defense.

    I sleep better at night knowing they're up there.
    Other than the "sleep better at night" part, I tend to agree 100% here. What is the problem now, after 45 years of Cold War Air Force flights with exactly the same cargo onboard?
    If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

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    First it would not be a "Broken Arrow" as the weapons were not involved in an accident.

    I worked as as a USAF firefighter from 1965 to 1985 with many years at bases with B-52s.

    We have not carried nuclear weapons on airborne alert since the 1960s. It was discontinued after a mid air collision off the coast of Spain between a B-52 and a KC-135 tanker resulting in the loss of both aircraft and the frantic recovery of the weapons.

    Aircraft were on ground alert until the fall of the Soviet Union.

    The big problem with this incident is the fact that they were "mistakenly" loaded with the warheads still attached. The danger of a nuclear detonation was basically nil as they were not fused or armed. The commander of the munitions unit has already been releived along with the load crew being decertified.

    Someone really screwed up in the accounting for the location of the warheads. You are not supposed to misplace warheads.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rayr49 View Post
    We have not carried nuclear weapons on airborne alert since the 1960s.
    AFAIK, the Chrome Dome flights ended shortly after the Thule crash in 1968 -- 2 years after the Spanish incident. We had nukes in the air constantly for about a decade before that. (Including virtually 24/7 in Danish airspace and regularly over Spain, Canada, and ths US...)
    "Nemo Plus Voluptatis Quam Nos Habant"

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    First it would not be a "Broken Arrow" as the weapons were not involved in an accident

    No sh1t sherlock.

    Someone cant use their imagination to think of what could possibly happen, hence the movie Broken Arrow

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    The big problem with this incident is the fact that they were "mistakenly" loaded with the warheads still attached.
    That right there is a true statement. Whether they flew over the US or even if they flew at all is not the issue.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    Also,back in the day,at least around Memphis,the civil defense sirens would sound every Saturday at noon to ensure that the gasoline powered units were in working order.
    My mom would explain to out of town visitors that if the Russians were going to attack Memphis,they'd do it on a Saturday so everyone would ignore the alerts until it was too late.

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    No,but at least the screw up was caught and people are being punished without too much delay,like would happen if Congress got involved.
    At the ground crew level,a Chief(or in this case,a Sergeant) can and will do a better job of exacting punishment than any officer or politician can.
    Those of us who have been in the military know this.


    Quote Originally Posted by Rayr49 View Post
    Someone really screwed up in the accounting for the location of the warheads. You are not supposed to misplace warheads.

    Stay Safe
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    I hope they were at least in a quart size ziplock bag.

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    MembersZone Subscriber MalahatTwo7's Avatar
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    At the ground crew level,a Chief(or in this case,a Sergeant) can and will do a better job of exacting punishment than any officer or politician can.
    Those of us who have been in the military know this.


    Yep yep yep. Eat it, sleep it, learn it, know it. Pass it on as necessary.
    If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

    "I may be slow, but my work is poor." Chief Dave Balding, MVFD

    "Its not Rocket Science. Just use a LITTLE imagination." (Me)

    Get it up. Get it on. Get it done!

    impossible solved cotidie. miracles postulo viginti - quattuor hora animadverto

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42 View Post
    That right there is a true statement. Whether they flew over the US or even if they flew at all is not the issue.
    Yep.

    For what it is worth, we've 'lost' several over the years. A couple of the incidents involved 'live' weapons. Some folks made mention of the incident in the Med and unless I'm mistaken the core of another is still buried somewhere in a North Carolina swamp.

    A major, first-class screwup occurred but the fact that a B-52 flew cross country with ALCMs (regardless of warhead type) onboard is no problem whatsoever - that's why B-52s exist.

    Of course, "nuclear weapons fly across the country" and "Air Force loses nukes for hours" make far better headlines than something that more accurate.

  20. #20
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    The aging B-52 was probably a bigger threat to people on the ground than the warheads themselves.
    "Yeah, but as I've always said, this country has A.D.D." - Denis Leary

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