2007 nuclear missile flight incident
The 2007 nuclear missile flight incident began on 2007-08-29, when Minot Air Force Base personnel with orders to collect a dozen unarmed missiles for a weapons graveyard mistakenly included 6 missiles armed with nuclear warheads, "each with the destructive power of up to 10 Hiroshima bombs" [WP2]. They remained there attached to the plane, without special guard, for over 15 hours. The error would only be discovered 36 hours later, after the missiles were flown from Minot AFB in North Dakota to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, and sat on the runway unattended for a further 10 hours [WP1].
"It was the first known flight by a nuclear-armed bomber over U.S. airspace, without special high-level authorization, in nearly 40 years." [WP2]
The event has raised serious concerns, both inside and outside the military establishment, about "the adequacy of US nuclear weapons safeguards while while the military's attention and resources are devoted to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan." [WP2]
There is a theory that this incident was connected with The Kennebunkport warning (see that article for details).
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- 2007-09-22 (WP2) The saga of a ‘Bent Spear’: "6 nukes fly across U.S.; no one notices for 36 hours — how could it happen?" by Joby Warrick and Walter Pincus, washingtonpost.com: a more in-depth article
- 2007-09-06 (WP1) In Error, B-52 Flew Over U.S. With Nuclear-Armed Missiles by Josh White, Washington Post Staff Writer