To err is human. Just not allowed with these...
The United States lost control of five nuclear warheads on a B-52 flying over the continental US last week. An Air Force wide investigation is on-going.
Near the end of co-ruling the world as a super-power it was common to hear of Russian Command & Control breaking down. We still don't know what happen to all the nukes from the various 'stans. Russian and 'stanian nukes or weapons grade materials is a common scenario for war game threat planning. I've just never heard of Britain or France, Israel or India losing operational control of special weapons.
Nor the United States. Till today.
Navy TimesYou only see operational mistakes of this nature when crews are stretched way past their limits.
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.
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.
"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 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.
Fighting two wars at a time oughta do it.
Empire is a bitch to maintain. All those pesky olive, brown, black and yellow people to keep in line. Having to use conventional weapons to do it instead of a nice clean nuke all because some people worry about moral implications.
Not to mention all the people back home who want more and more goodies while refusing to fight themselves, plus those abroad who won't slave away like good little wogs.
What's an evil empire to do?