Last weekend, the US Military lost control of a missile squadron:
President Obama was briefed this morning on an engineering
powerfailure at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming that took 50 nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), one-ninth of the U.S. missile stockpile, temporarily offline on Saturday.
The base is a main locus of the United States’ strategic nuclear forces. The 90th Missile Wing, headquartered there, controls 150 Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic nuclear missiles. They’re on full-time alert and are housed in a variety of bunkers across several states.
On Saturday morning, according to people briefed on what happened, a squadron of ICBMs suddenly dropped down into what’s known as “LF Down” status, meaning that the missileers in their bunkers could no longer communicate with the missiles themselves. LF Down status also means that various security protocols built into the missile delivery system, like intrusion alarms and warhead separation alarms, were offline. In LF Down status, the missiles are still technically launch-able, but they can only be controlled by an airborne command and control platform like the
Boeing E-6 NAOC “Kneecap” aircraft, E-4B NAOC aircraft or perhaps the TACAMO fleet, which is primarily used to communicate with nuclear submarines. Had the country been placed on a higher state of nuclear alert, those platforms would be operating automatically because the frequencies used to transmit nuclear codes would be interfacing with separate systems, according to officials.
This is about 1⁄9 of our land based deterrent.
Great googly moogly.
So on those few hours we were owing our existence to a mere 400 warheads instead of 450. (Not counting, that is, the hundreds — or is it thousands? — of airborne and submarine borne warhead.)
Our lives were hanging on a thread and we did not even know.
Ummm….The point is that somehow or other, they lost command and control of 50 nukes.
Being unable to launch, who cares, losing C2 however is scary.