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Nuke transportation story has explosive implications


Douglas Caddy
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Questions I have that might also address the above - If they were carrying inert missiles, would the crews even have bothered to connect the missile’s avionics cables to the pylon? The pylon’s avionics cables to the plane?

The answer would be yes to both your questions, IMO. That normally happens with external stores that I am aware of... but I have no experience with the B-52. I have been able to contact an experienced B-52 crewmember and have asked some questions regarding visual indications in the cockpit.

I hope to get a reply within a few days.

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Questions I have that might also address the above - If they were carrying inert missiles, would the crews even have bothered to connect the missile’s avionics cables to the pylon? The pylon’s avionics cables to the plane?

The answer would be yes to both your questions, IMO. That normally happens with external stores that I am aware of... but I have no experience with the B-52. I have been able to contact an experienced B-52 crewmember and have asked some questions regarding visual indications in the cockpit.

I hope to get a reply within a few days.

I for one look forward to learning more about the nature of N-load indicators.

Charles

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Charles,

My guess is it would be somewhat similar to arming panels for other weapons. You'd select a particular station, and in the case of a nuke you'd be able to select a warhead yield... but it would not give you a specific indication that it is carrying a live warhead.

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I looked up some information about the W-80 warhead (the type fitted to the AGM-129) and it has a Category D Permissive Action Link (PAL). This is the system that prevents a nuke being armed without the correct codes. It was mentioned that this PAL system probably was also used to select the yield of the device.

http://nuclearweaponarchive.org/Usa/Weapons/W80.html

http://nuclearweaponarchive.org/Usa/Weapons/Pal.html

This seems to give a little more data on the communications between the weapon and the aircraft:

A MIT [Missile Interface Test] is a communication test between the aircraft and the missile and is normally performed after package upload onto the aircraft. The aircraft offensive avionics system (OAS) sends a command word to the missile and tells it to perform an internal built-in test (BIT) test on any components it has and report the results back to the aircraft. SITs [system Interface Test] are more involved and must be performed (per technical order) if a single missile swap occurs on the flight line. In addition to all the tests the MIT performs, a SIT commands the missile inertial navigation element (INE) to go into a Fine Align/Coarse Align. This test ensures that the inertial platform is able to align to an earth reference and can take 1-second updates from the aircraft.

A Loaded Launcher Test / Loaded Pylon Test (LLT/LPT) Type A is run after building the package and to certify operational capability of the package. It is primarily a communication test and verifies that the aircraft will be able to communicate through the pylon/launcher and down to the missile. A LLT/LPT Type B is a retest of previous SIT or MIT failure. The test is identical to a LLT/LPT Type A and serves a similar purpose as a Level 1 except at the package level (as opposed to the individual missile level).

Cruise Missile Functional Ground Testing (FGT) is required to provide the capability to non-destructively accomplish functional flight simulation of a full-up missile flight profile on the ground to obtain additional reliability data. This capability will provide critical reliability data without the cost of flight test mission and will also retain the missiles in the inventory. This effort will develop the software and hardware for an existing test facility for accomplishment of the ground tests.

http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/systems/acm.htm

This tells us that they can check the missile systems - as would be expected - put it doesn't make clear if a warhead status is also displayed.

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Of the many possible NON-SINISTER -- if anything related to nuclear and thermo-nuclear weapons may be so described -- goals of a "perfect failure" of safeguards in this instance might be to engender just this sort of discussion, in which disinformation regarding stockpile protection methods, onboard telemetric and other relevant electronic systems, etc. could be cast upon the waters.

Not unlike my preferred methodology for analysis of the JFK assassination, here we would be wise to ask and answer the "how" question before we move on, if warranted, to "who" and "why."

Of course the "how" of the JFK assassination has been answered definitively.

Yup. It's the "C" word.

Charles

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Got a reply:

Evan: Nice to hear from you again! I've been asking the same questions for a couple weeks now and I'm getting a few answers:

First of all, no one I've spoken with is ruling out the possibility of an "intentional" mistake. If Iran or anyone else needed to be reminded that the U.S. still had nuclear-tipped cruise missiles, this "incident" should have been a wake-up call. Although careers are going to end for real, I do not dismiss the conspiracy theories. We had plenty of weird and risky missions "on the shelf" that made this look ordinary in comparison.

I haven't ruled out a security or procedures test either: loading real warheads to see who, when, and where they'd catch the mistake. No one I've spoken to could confirm or deny that there was an actual complete operational physics package on the missiles or just a few components.

It would be hard to believe that an actual warhead was completely assembled without an A- or L-hour declared. Stranger things have happened I suppose, but "two-man" and "two-officer" procedures are so rigid that it's hard to believe that live nuclear warheads could be assembled for a test. In captive-carry test launches they would put several actual warhead components on board the missile, but not the physics package.

In a ferry mission, the weapons themselves would have been bolted to the external beams, so there was no danger of anything being launched.

The weapons and arming panel indicators show the position (place on the external beams), connectivity (data and power exchange), and condition (armed, prearmed, or safe). With the stores control panel on and the arming panel and safe/prearm panel off, the stores indicator would have shown position only. With the arming panel on, the crew would see connectivity and condition.

In a simple ferry mission it's not necessary for the aircrew to mess with the arming panel, so they would not have known from the cockpit that the weapons were live.

I did not hear that the crews did not visually inspect the weapons themselves (actually, I never asked--I assumed they did with the wing weapons officer in tow). They should have inspected the weapons on the external beams to be sure they were bolted down so they couldn't come off the plane, grabbed them and given them a shake to be sure, and I certainly would have looked at the weapon markings to be sure they had inert warheads.

I have done many captive carry test launches with cruise missiles (not the AGM-129 tho) and I've visually checked, double-checked, and triple-checked that there wasn't a live warhead on board.

I've never done a ferry mission, though, so I'm not exactly sure what the procedures are. They might do a combined captive-carry test launch with a ferry mission, so there might have been weapon components installed.

There is no conventional AGM-129 (yet), although both bases have both the -129 and -86.

It'll be interesting to hear what happens, but I think the media exaggerated this mishap and although someone probably screwed up it wasn't the BFRC (Big Fxxxxxx Red Cloud) emergency they portrayed.

Now, I trust this guy's judgment, and he says it might have been intentional.... but it might have also been a test. Wonder if we'll ever find out?

Edited by Evan Burton
Corrected formatting
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Evan-

Thanks for the info - tell your friend his insights are very much appreciated.

After reading Evan's friend's message I find myself backtracking to the "undecided" category leaning towards intentional.

I hadn't even thought about a security test. An argument can be made for that, and like he says, a backhanded way to remind people we still have a nuclear capability.

Funny thing about the "Why Barksdale?" question. After thinking about this more on my commute in this morning (I know-I need a life!) I realized that the question is meaningless in terms of the theory that this was an attempt to ferry a nuke to the Mideast. Barksdale, is the home of the only other B52 base, is an ex-SAC base and most certainly has nukes of its own. Absolutely no reason for a smuggling operation to originate at Minot, when you could just "arrange a screw up" at Barksdale.

However, now "Why Barksdale?" makes perfect sense for the destination of a security test. Its where the missiles were normally decommissioned, AND already had personnel on base qualified to handle the W80 warhead, regardless of its condition

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Evan-

Thanks for the info - tell your friend his insights are very much appreciated.

After reading Evan's friend's message I find myself backtracking to the "undecided" category leaning towards intentional.

I hadn't even thought about a security test. An argument can be made for that, and like he says, a backhanded way to remind people we still have a nuclear capability.

Funny thing about the "Why Barksdale?" question. After thinking about this more on my commute in this morning (I know-I need a life!) I realized that the question is meaningless in terms of the theory that this was an attempt to ferry a nuke to the Mideast. Barksdale, is the home of the only other B52 base, is an ex-SAC base and most certainly has nukes of its own. Absolutely no reason for a smuggling operation to originate at Minot, when you could just "arrange a screw up" at Barksdale.

However, now "Why Barksdale?" makes perfect sense for the destination of a security test. Its where the missiles were normally decommissioned, AND already had personnel on base qualified to handle the W80 warhead, regardless of its condition

I don't get the backhanded reminder business. Don't you think that a country like Iran is FULLY aware of the nukes we have, including assets in the Gulf right now?

I'm also luke warm on a security test, but its a possiblilty.

I still favor people just not doing their jobs. They are still people and people have an amazing ability to screw things up.

On another note we have this:

Navy: 6 Punished for Skipped Checks

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Sailors on the submarine USS Hampton failed to do daily safety checks on the ship's nuclear reactor for a month and falsified records to cover up the omission, a Navy investigation shows.

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/us/AP-Navy...amp;oref=slogin

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I still favor people just not doing their jobs. They are still people and people have an amazing ability to screw things up.

On another note we have this:

Navy: 6 Punished for Skipped Checks

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Sailors on the submarine USS Hampton failed to do daily safety checks on the ship's nuclear reactor for a month and falsified records to cover up the omission, a Navy investigation shows.

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/us/AP-Navy...amp;oref=slogin

Why on Earth do people do stuff like this? Sure, laziness in small matters with no serious repercussions is almost to be expected, but this is a nuclear reactor! We have the same problems in aviation. You highlight again and again that you are involved in aviation safety, that a failure to carry out procedures can lead to loss of life... and people still take shortcuts. We lose an aircraft and nine lives because of this... and yet people still fail to carry out the correct procedure, even after seeing what the result could be!

Simply incredible.

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I still favor people just not doing their jobs. They are still people and people have an amazing ability to screw things up.

On another note we have this:

Navy: 6 Punished for Skipped Checks

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Sailors on the submarine USS Hampton failed to do daily safety checks on the ship's nuclear reactor for a month and falsified records to cover up the omission, a Navy investigation shows.

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/us/AP-Navy...amp;oref=slogin

Why on Earth do people do stuff like this? Sure, laziness in small matters with no serious repercussions is almost to be expected, but this is a nuclear reactor! We have the same problems in aviation. You highlight again and again that you are involved in aviation safety, that a failure to carry out procedures can lead to loss of life... and people still take shortcuts. We lose an aircraft and nine lives because of this... and yet people still fail to carry out the correct procedure, even after seeing what the result could be!

Simply incredible.

Human beings.....

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Evan-

I hadn't even thought about a security test. An argument can be made for that ...

NOW we're getting somewhere.

The so-called security test -- or security stripping, if you prefer (and I do) -- is an essential component in an attack on a target (human and otherwise) well protected by non-corruptable safeguards (human and otherwise).

It happened in Dealey Plaza and, to a lesser but still significant degree, in Memphis. Regardless of where you come down on the Diana issue, her security inarguably was stripped on that fatal night.

As for 9-11 ... Well, I've yet to hear any of the Human Error Irregulars or the Coincidentalisimos go on record with an endorsement of the notion that OBL sure got lucky when he scheduled his operation on the very same day that the air defense stripping exercises that amounted to the sine qua non for the attacks' collective success were initiated.

Man, wouldn't you have loved to take LHO, JER, and OBL to Vegas? The cooler hasn't been born who could freeze their assets!

Charles

Edited by Charles Drago
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  • 4 weeks later...

Let me blow my horn for a minute. I was the one who first posted the newspaper article on the nuclear warheads being transported over the U.S. Tim Gratz pooh-poohed it. Now look how long this thread is. Here's my initial post:

Member No.: 5645

"Nuclear Bombs Mistakenly Flown Over US

By PAULINE JELINEK,AP

Posted: 2007-09-05 23:11:46

WASHINGTON (AP) - A B-52 bomber was mistakenly armed with six nuclear warheads and flown for more than three hours across several states last week, prompting an Air Force investigation and the firing of one commander, Pentagon officials said Wednesday.

The mistake was so serious that President Bush and Defense Secretary Robert Gates were quickly informed and Gates has asked for daily briefings on the Air Force inquiry, said Defense Department press secretary Geoff Morrell.

He said Gates was assured that "the munitions were part of a routine transfer between the two bases and at all times they were in the custody and control of Air Force personnel and at no time was the public in danger."

Rep. Ike Skelton , chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, called the mishandling of the weapons "deeply disturbing" and said the committee would press the military for details. Rep. Edward J. Markey , a senior member of the Homeland Security Committee, said it was "absolutely inexcusable."

"Nothing like this has ever been reported before and we have been assured for decades that it was impossible.

According to the officials, the weapons are designed with multiple safety features that ensure the warheads don't accidentally detonate.

Arming the weapons requires a number of stringent protocols and authentication codes that must be followed for detonation. And they are designed to withstand a significant impact, including an aircraft crash, without detonating.

The Air Combat Command has ordered a command-wide stand down on Sept. 14 to review procedures, officials said. They said there was minimal risk to crews and the public because of safety features designed into the munitions."

--How scary is this? And the Air Combat Command has been given a command standdown and they even announce the date.

Kathy

I write this only to show members that I'm not undiscerning, ill-informed, crazy or just a gossip.

Kathy

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