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).
- 2008-06-05 [Talk|Index] Air Force officials ousted over nuclear gaffes § “ The top military and civilian leaders of the U.S. Air Force were forced out Thursday over the handling of nuclear weapons, the Defense Department secretary said. .. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Michael Moseley .. and Secretary Michael Wynne have stepped down. ... over the department's concern over two incidents, including the August flight of a B-52 bomber that flew across the country with nuclear weapons. .. "Focus of the Air Force leadership has drifted" in terms of handling nuclear weapons and equipment, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said.” Commentary: Dana Hunter
- 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