Never in the short history of the nuclear age has the military lost track of nuclear missiles—until now. Buried on A23 (with a few scant paragraphs in “Nation in Brief”) of the LA Times on Thursday, it seems a B-52 bomber mistakenly flew from North Dakota to Louisiana with six (6!) nuclear warheads strapped to its wings. Strapped to its wings!
By Saturday, the story moved up to page A10, and had more details: the plane’s crew had no idea that six nuclear warheads were strapped to the wings when they made the flight; the weapons were strapped to the wings on the runway for nearly 24 hours in North Dakota, and no one noticed; Air Force personnel who were assigned to secure the move of non-nuclear missiles didn’t examine the missiles closely enough to realize that they contained nuclear warheads.
The flight occurred on August 29. Although it is military policy never to discuss the movements of the nuclear arsenal, Air Force Secretary Michael W. Wynne decided to go public at a Pentagon news conference because the accident was so serious. At least five officers have been relieved of command.
Photo of Hiroshima Bomb Damage: it could have happened here.