Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Red ribbons?

Some interesting tidbits from World Politics Review about the six nuclear armed cruise missiles loaded on a B-52:
Since the AGM-129 does not have a conventionally armed variant, the Aug. 29-30 error involves more than a ground crew simply selecting the wrong version of the missile. An AGM-129 with a nuclear warhead also looks different (having special red markings) than one with an inert warhead.
The WaPo article by Pincus (discussed and linked to below) mentioned the red markings, but implied they weren't always there, and said that an inspector would have to look through 'a stamp size opening' to know if the missile carried a live warhead. From the WaPo article:
In many cases, a red ribbon or marker attached to the missile serves as an additional warning.
This is deceptive on someone's part (I'd guess the Air Force, speaking to Pincus).

Then there's this, that will keep the alarmists among you far from sleep and flopping about in their beds like gaffed salmon:
The Air Force also subsequently conducted an unusually large number of no-notice and short-notice "limited nuclear surety inspections" of select Air Force units. The Air Force routinely performs these inspections to assess the safety, security and reliability of its nuclear weapons. The Aug. 30 incident, however, probably has resulted in reviews of whether USAF personnel are properly performing counting and verification procedures for stored nuclear munitions. The Air Combat Command, which operates the U.S. strategic bomber fleet, is inspecting its units. But so is the Air Force Space Command, which oversees the U.S. intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) arsenal.
"Well, Lem, this here manifest says 242 nuclear armed cruise missiles, and I can count only 230. What gives?"
"Don't know, Clyde, but it's time for the prayer meeting and the commander is a stickler fer that. Let's go and let Jesus provide for them nukes."
Sleep well!


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