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B-52 flew across the US 'in nuclear cargo error'

 
 
Reply Wed 5 Sep, 2007 08:52 am
Quote:
B-52 mistakenly flies with nukes aboard

By Michael Hoffman - Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday Sep 5, 2007 5:36:22 EDT

A B-52 bomber mistakenly loaded with five nuclear warheads flew from Minot Air Force Base, N.D, to Barksdale Air Force Base, La., on Aug. 30, resulting in an Air Force-wide investigation, according to three officers who asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to discuss the incident.

The B-52 was loaded with Advanced Cruise Missiles, part of a Defense Department effort to decommission 400 of the ACMs. But the nuclear warheads should have been removed at Minot before being transported to Barksdale, the officers said. The missiles were mounted onto the pylons of the bomber's wings.

Advanced Cruise Missiles carry a W80-1 warhead with a yield of 5 to 150 kilotons and are specifically designed for delivery by B-52 strategic bombers.

Air Force spokesman Lt. Col. Ed Thomas said the transfer was safely conducted and the weapons were in Air Force custody and control at all times.

However, the mistake was not discovered until the B-52 landed at Barskdale, which left the warheads unaccounted for during the approximately 3 1/2 hour flight between the two bases, the officers said.

An investigation headed by Maj. Gen. Douglas Raaberg, director of Air and Space Operations at Air Combat Command Headquarters, was launched immediately to find the cause of the mistake and figure out how it could have been prevented, Thomas said.

Air Force officials wouldn't officially specify whether nuclear weapons were involved, in accordance with long-standing Defense Department policy regarding nuclear munitions, Thomas said. However, the three officers close to the situation did confirm the warheads were nuclear.

Officials at Minot immediately conducted an inventory of its nuclear weapons after the oversight was discovered, and Thomas said he could confirm that all remaining nuclear weapons at Minot are accounted for.

"Air Force standards are very exacting when it comes to munitions handling," he said. "The weapons were always in our custody and there was never a danger to the American public."

At no time was there a risk for a nuclear detonation, even if the B-52 crashed on its way to Barksdale, said Steve Fetter, a former Defense Department official who worked on nuclear weapons policy in 1993-94. A crash could ignite the high explosives associated with the warhead, and possibly cause a leak of the plutonium, but the warheads' elaborate safeguards would prevent a nuclear detonation from occurring, he said.

"The main risk would have been the way the Air Force responded to any problems with the flight because they would have handled it much differently if they would have known nuclear warheads were onboard," he said.

The risk of the warheads falling into the hands of rogue nations or terrorists was minimal since the weapons never left the United States, according to Fetter and Michael O'Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, an independent research and policy think tank in Washington, D.C.

The crews involved with the mistaken load at the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot have been temporarily decertified from performing their duties involving munitions pending corrective actions or additional training, Thomas said.

Air Combat Command will have a command-wide mission stand down Sept. 14 to review their procedures in response to this oversight, he said.

"The Air Force takes its mission to safeguard weapons seriously," he said. "No effort will be spared to ensure that the matter is thoroughly and completely investigated."
source: Army Times

Such happens in Germany more or less regularily - and not by error. (Ramstein, Spandahlem, Büchel ... are the places where the USA stores there nuclear warheads [and other nuclear weapons] here in Germany)
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Type: Discussion • Score: 2 • Views: 4,034 • Replies: 47
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farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 Sep, 2007 09:09 am
Quote:
?Air Force standards are very exacting when it comes to munitions handling,? he said. ?The weapons were always in our custody and there was never a danger to the American public.?
Appparently theyre not tooo exacting ifn we can drive off with 5 of them bad boys strapped to the wings of a bomber and nobody knew **** about it.


The entire Air Farce should be done by subcontractors.
0 Replies
 
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 Sep, 2007 06:11 pm
Sheesh-

You go for year after year getting it right and then make one teeny-weeny little mistake and the fuzzie-wuzzies are jumping up and down in indignation and making some sinister bogeyman secret plot out of it like as if the deamons are on the loose again.

It's only like setting off in the car with the trunk left open. Bound to happen every once in a while given the general standard of competence.

It's amazing there's not more of it.
0 Replies
 
Joe Nation
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 Sep, 2007 06:38 pm
You might drive off while forgetting that the baby is in the car-seat on top of the car, but one hopes, no, expects those of charge thermonuclear weapons to be slightly more focused.

Joe(oopsey daisy was not the slogan of the Strategic Air Command.)Nation
0 Replies
 
squinney
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 Sep, 2007 06:41 pm
I didn't get the "they wouldn't detonate if the plane crashed" part of the story.

Is there something besides impact that makes them detonate?
0 Replies
 
TTH
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 Sep, 2007 06:47 pm
squinney wrote:
I didn't get the "they wouldn't detonate if the plane crashed" part of the story.

Is there something besides impact that makes them detonate?
Yes
0 Replies
 
LionTamerX
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 Sep, 2007 06:55 pm
The USAF accidentally dropped an A Bomb outside of Florence, SC back in the 50's. The bomb wasn't armed, so no mushroom cloud, but it sure did a number on this old farmer's barn.

Quote:
March 11, 1958 Florence South Carolina

On March 11, 1958, at 3:52 P.M. (EST), a B-47E departed Hunter AFB, Georgia, as number three aircraft in a flight of four en route to an overseas base. After level off at 15,000 feet, the aircraft accidentally jettisoned an unarmed nuclear weapon which impacted on a sparsely populated area approximately 6 miles from Florence, South Carolina. The Bomb's high explosive material exploded on impact. The explosion caused property damage and several injuries on the ground.
0 Replies
 
fishin
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 Sep, 2007 08:11 pm
squinney wrote:

Is there something besides impact that makes them detonate?


Impact doesn't effect their detonation at all. To set them off requires a very specialized detonator. That's why the design and materials to make those detonators are controlled under the non-proliferation treatys.


But anyway, this is a f***up of major proportions. An entire chain of people had to screw up for something like this to happen.
0 Replies
 
TTH
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Sep, 2007 09:45 am
You really believe it was a mistake?
0 Replies
 
Joe Nation
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Sep, 2007 11:55 am
If it was on purpose no one would have said anything about it.

Joe(not a mumbling word)Nation
0 Replies
 
TTH
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Sep, 2007 12:12 pm
Joe Nation wrote:
If it was on purpose no one would have said anything about it.

Joe(not a mumbling word)Nation
How do you know that? Why was the press even told about it? Why couldn't it be done on purpose? It just seems strange to me that this mistake suddenly occurred and right before 9/11. I am not implying some type of conspiracy but, it does send a message doesn't it. That is the way I saw it when I first heard about it.
0 Replies
 
Joe Nation
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Sep, 2007 12:16 pm
Why was the press told about it?

Why couldn't it be done on purpose?

I would like to hear TTH's answers to those questions.

Joe(leading the purposefull life)Nation
0 Replies
 
fishin
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Sep, 2007 02:16 pm
TTH wrote:
Joe Nation wrote:
If it was on purpose no one would have said anything about it.

Joe(not a mumbling word)Nation


How do you know that? Why was the press even told about it? Why couldn't it be done on purpose? It just seems strange to me that this mistake suddenly occurred and right before 9/11. I am not implying some type of conspiracy but, it does send a message doesn't it. That is the way I saw it when I first heard about it.


What "message" would have been sent by doing this and to whom would it have been directed? Was this to create a show of force for the people of Kentucky? Have they been acting up down there again??

We had a train run into a tractor trailer truck up here this morning. Right before 9/11! OMG! Laughing
0 Replies
 
Brand X
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Sep, 2007 02:57 pm
Was Cheney flying the plane....maybe he thought shooting his buddy in the face wasn't enough.
0 Replies
 
dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Sep, 2007 02:59 pm
Brand X wrote:
Was Cheney flying the plane....maybe he thought shooting his buddy in the face wasn't enough.
apparently Cheney was with Rice, the other unknown in the new Bush administration.
0 Replies
 
TTH
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Sep, 2007 04:51 pm
Joe Nation wrote:
Why was the press told about it?

Why couldn't it be done on purpose?

I would like to hear TTH's answers to those questions.

Joe(leading the purposefull life)Nation
Why would I answer my own questions Laughing

Oh, let me ask you this then. Where are our nuclear warheads in WA state and if you knew, which I doubt, would you post it?
0 Replies
 
Joe Nation
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Sep, 2007 08:40 pm
Go ahead. Give it a shot.

Joe(Inquiring minds want to inquire)Nation
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Sep, 2007 10:34 pm
TTH wrote:
Oh, let me ask you this then. Where are our nuclear warheads in WA state and if you knew, which I doubt, would you post it?


I suppose such should be too difficult to find out, if there are any.

We know where they are here in Europe, even (nearly) the exact amount and type.
0 Replies
 
Joe Nation
 
  1  
Reply Sat 8 Sep, 2007 03:59 am
It's not that difficult here, Walter.

Strategic Weapons Facility, Pacific (SWFPAC)
Bangor, Washington
47°44'45"N 122°43'40"W

Joe(You just have to know what to ask.)Nation
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sat 8 Sep, 2007 05:47 am
Great Falls International Airport is already outside, but that would be the next AF-base.

And Umatilla is 'only' storing chemical WMD's, in Oregon.
0 Replies
 
 

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