Friday, October 19, 2007

70 punished in accidental B-52 flight





The Air Force said Friday it would punish 70 airmen involved in the accidental, cross-country flight of a nuclear-armed B-52 bomber following an investigation that found widespread disregard for the rules on handling such munitions.

"There has been an erosion of adherence to weapons-handling standards at Minot Air Force Base and Barksdale Air Force Base," said Maj. Gen. Richard Newton, the Air Force deputy chief of staff for operations.


The B-52 in question actually flew right over my hometown of Kansas City, MO. Which is either sort of ominous or sort of hilarious; I still haven't determined which.

7 comments:

mr. incredulous said...

What I'd like to know is how the hell could this have happened? The B-52 sat on the tarmac at Barksdale AFB in Louisiana for over 10 hours.

From the report:

"The missiles were supposed to be taken to Louisiana, but the warheads were supposed to have been removed beforehand.

"A main reason for the error was that crews had decided not to follow a complex schedule under which the status of the missiles is tracked while they are disarmed, loaded, moved and so on, one official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record.

"The airmen replaced the schedule with their own "informal" system, he said, though he didn't say why they did that nor how long they had been doing it their own way."

[What the fuck?!? Their own "informal" system???]

"This was an unacceptable mistake and a clear deviation from our exacting standards," Air Force Secretary Michael W. Wynne said at a Pentagon press conference with Newton."

Yeah, no kidding. 6 stealth cruise missles strapped to the wing of a B-52, sitting outside on the runway for over 10 hours. What if some terrorists in military garb had showed up as munitions personnel, off-loaded the missiles, and drove away with them?

While permissive action links would probably have prevented their use as is, the cruise missiles could have been disassembled to recover their plutonium warheads for terrorist use. Each of these warheads is 17 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

Imagine the consequences if they had been used to decapitate Washington, D.C., New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles or Silicon Valley, and Mt. Weather and Site R (the two primary nuclear command bunkers where COG/COOP operations would be conducted from)?

Enough firepower on that one bomber to completely destroy the US economically and otherwise. Absolutely incredible.

Maybe next time they can slap some "this is a nuke" or radiation symbol stickers to distinguish which warheads are nuclear and which are not. Unbelievable.

mr. intense said...

"The B-52 sat on the tarmac at Barksdale AFB in Louisiana for over 10 hours."

Correction: the cruise-nuke loaded B-52 sat overnight on a secured flightline at Minot, ND AFB prior to flying to Barksdale, LA, where the cruise nukes were discovered on the bomber. Mea culpa.

For further details on what happened, see the following:
http://tinyurl.com/2xcyzg

This link goes to a USAF press conference transcript detailing the series of procedural errors that began and continued at Minot that resulted in this fiasco. Some actually pretty interesting details, which document how 4 separate procedural failures resulted in the loading of the nukes on the B-52. Check it out.

Anonymous said...

Trickle-down incompetence....

Anonymous said...

"The Air Force said Friday it would punish 70 airmen involved in the accidental, cross-country flight of a nuclear-armed B-52 bomber following an investigation that found widespread disregard for the rules on handling such munitions."

By giving them a stern talking-to?

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It can't work as a matter of fact, that's exactly what I suppose.

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