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Lessons learned from the Minot/Barksdale nuke flight

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and as usual they blow it way out of proportion when they talk about "a near disaster with 6 nukes over American cities".If the loading crew didn't know they were nukes, the pilots didn't know they were nukes, and noone else knew they were nukes, there was no way those nukes could have been set off.So there could have been no nuclear "disaster", at most a small spill of nuclear material had the aircraft crashed and even that's highly unlikely given the design of the warheads.What's far more worrying to me is that weapons are loaded onto aircraft without checking what they actually are and making sure those weapons are in working order.Next time a pilot goes into combat and has to rely on his AIM-9 or AIM-120 he's going to have to keep his fingers crossed not only for hoping they're real weapons (not dummies), but the right type (wiring up an AIM-9L as an AIM-9M might cause misfire, I don't know), and that it's actually hooked up at all...Or the bomber crew who sets their bombs for altitude burst, they'd have to pray that the things will drop and not hang on, exploding when the aircraft descends to land because some armourer "forgot" to remove a safety pin from the release mechanism.What this incident shows is a severe lack of discipline on the part of the ground crews, utter disrespect for proper procedure.And if it is happening even with nukes, the most heavily guarded weapons in the arsenal, handled (supposedly) by the best trained and disciplined crews, one can only shudder at the thought of what the state of the rest of the ground staff is.

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jwenting...I agree the risk of a "broken arrow" (plane crash with nukes onboard) was small, but it was real. We used to practice for such events frequently in the USAF (ironically Minot was my last duty station).Your other points call out the real issue, which is lack/loss of discipline. That loss, around nuclear materials cannot be tolerated. The article also called out improper storage and other procedural errors.All in all a black eye for what used to be a highly regarded, very safe process.bt

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I have both operational and design experience in the US Navy systems, and it is hard for me to envision how something like this could happen in my day.But it is true when Pres GHW Bush decided to stand down most nukes, followed by the military draw down under Bush and Clinton, there was a tremendous push to save money that had previously gone to the program. I think in my day at least 50% of naval officers would have had some responsibilities for these at some point in their careers, and so would have sensitivity about how things are done. Today, outside of the SSBN community there are very few with that experience.scott s..

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Of course the loss was real, but that's not what I was referring to as it wasn't what PP (or the press in general) was referring to.They're as usual hinting at nukes being set off over the US when a bomber flies overhead (or worse, crashes into their backyard, which everyone knows happens all the time thanks to the always correct reporting by the media). That just doesn't happen. Never has happened, never will unless the crew willfully and knowingly arm it for release during flight.The loss of an intact weapon is an even worse problem, and in this case it would have gone unnoticed until an inventory of the weapons at Minnot possibly months later which is worse still.It would leave a fully functional nuclear device out there for anyone with the technical knowhow to use as he wishes.Of course there are safeguards and security devices built in, but if the weapon was taken from stores under the impression it was something else were they activated? I assume those devices need electrical current off the weapons batteries and therefore are not active while the weapon is in cold storage at a base (so as not to drain those batteries).But someone determined and tech savvie enough is likely able to extract the fission and fusion materials as well as get a lot of knowledge about US nuclear weapons, enabling them to create at least a crude working nuke of their own as well as a major amount of cash from selling that knowledge to say the Chinese or Russians.It would be the intel coup of the century.

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