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earlier burfling | later burfling

Nuclear weapons go for a joyride? WTF?

I would have thought this impossible, but according to the Military Times, last week the Air Force loaded up a B-52 with six nuclear-tipped cruise missiles for a little jaunt from Minot AFB to Barksdale AFB. Inadvertently.
The Air Force continued handing out disciplinary actions in response to the six nuclear warheads mistakenly flown on a B-52 Stratofortress bomber from Minot Air Force Base, N.D., to Barksdale Air Force Base, La., on Aug. 30. The squadron commander in charge of Minot’s munitions crews was relieved of all duties pending the investigation.

It was originally reported that five nuclear warheads were transported, but officers who tipped Military Times to the incident who have asked to remain anonymous since they are not authorized to discuss the incident, have since updated that number to six.

Air Force and defense officials would not confirm the missiles were armed with nuclear warheads Wednesday, citing longstanding policy, but they did confirm the Air Force was "investigating an error made last Thursday during the transfer of munitions" from Minot to Barksdale.

The original plan was to transport non-nuclear Advanced Cruise Missiles, mounted on the wings of a B-52, to Barksdale as part of a Defense Department effort to decommission 400 of the ACMs. It was not discovered that the six missiles had nuclear warheads until the plane landed at Barksdale, leaving the warheads unaccounted for during the approximately 3 1/2 hour flight between the two bases, the officers said.
This is simply astounding. I can neither confirm nor deny whether or not we ever had nuclear weapons on the old Ustafish, but we did go through the qualification process and I remember the incredible amount of checks, balances, multiple signoffs and assorted fooferaw that goes along with handling those beasts. I literally cannot imagine how anybody could accidentally load one nuclear weapon on an airplane, let alone six.

Frankly, I'd thought that all the nuclear-tipped cruise missiles had been decommissioned back in the early 1990s. I guess I was wrong on the decommissioning. Looks like I was wrong on my assumption that the Air Force had its act together as far as dealing with nuclear weapons is concerned, too.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, over?

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