US Lost Touch With 50 Nukes This Weekend

from the that-does-not-sound-good dept

On the heels of hearing about how the US lost its nuclear launch codes for a few months over a decade ago, comes a report about how the launch control at the Warren Air Force Base apparently couldn't communicate or monitor 50 nuclear missiles this past weekend. There were backup systems that allowed others to monitor the missiles, but apparently the whole snafu, due to a single hardware failure, seems to have shaken a few folks who aren't happy that this happened, noting that the US plans "are wholly inadequate to handle an entire squadron of missiles dropping offline." Comforting.


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  1.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Oct 27th, 2010 @ 7:51am

    No worries...

    Never fear, the Brotherhood of Steel will arise from the ashes and provide all the iguana jerky, Nuka Cola, and partially mutated prostitutes you can handle.

    We're also working on this sweet shit called Jet. More on that later....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 27th, 2010 @ 7:59am

    Story Already Updated

    This wasn't a power failure. They're just calling it an "engineering failure" now. Basically, the missiles were communicating some bad info so they basically rebooted one of the systems which seems to have "fixed" the problem. Everyone that seems to have a name knew what was going on the whole time. Only a convieniently unnamed general seems to be worked up.

    Chances are the concern is BS and just fabricated by ignorant press people. The US has nearly six *thousand* nuclear ICBMs. 50 of them not being able to launch is not a problem....

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 27th, 2010 @ 7:59am

    But I thought not declaring war on wikileaks is our biggest danger right now.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 27th, 2010 @ 8:02am

    The U.S. is starting to look a lot like the USSR, they also couldn't make anything work right.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 27th, 2010 @ 8:03am

    Re: Story Already Updated

    "This wasn't a power failure."

    It was a power failure caused by the cyberwarbots that knocked out the powerlines to disable our defenses and put American lives at risk. We need to stop the cyberwar.

     

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  6.  
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    Free Capitalist (profile), Oct 27th, 2010 @ 8:04am

    It was the French!

    The addresses for those silos made it onto the Hadopi ban list owing to the torrent seeding of "Funny Girl" and "Dr. Strangelove" on the WOPR

     

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  7.  
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    Joe Glow, Oct 27th, 2010 @ 8:11am

    Re: Story Already Updated

    Chances are the concern is BS and just fabricated by ignorant press people. The US has nearly six *thousand* nuclear ICBMs. 50 of them not being able to launch is not a problem....

    And that ought to be the real story, that even with 50 nukes out of commission, we still have enough of these things to wipe out civilization as we know it many times over.

    Maybe we should save some money and worry, and reduce our arsenal to the point where we can properly maintain and secure it.

     

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  8.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Oct 27th, 2010 @ 8:14am

    Re: Re: Story Already Updated

    "Maybe we should save some money and worry, and reduce our arsenal to the point where we can properly maintain and secure it."

    NO! Then the Germans...wait, the Russians...wait, the terrorists...wait, the Iraqis....wait....who are we supposed to be afraid of now? Is it the formics yet?

    I'll put my fear on hold for the moment until we get this cleared up....

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 27th, 2010 @ 8:17am

    Well, maybe those 50 were targeted on a specific country. Imagine if that country found out about it and decided to do a first strike on the US? We wouldn't be able to hit back. We would be at their mercy. Oh, the horror. Of course, rumor has it those 50 were targeting Iran (since it really wouldn't take more than 50.) I can just imagine Pres. Abjamajaboudayabadabadoo hearing about how we couldn't strike back and he missed his chance.

    Were there any UFO's reported in the area? I have read that a few sites have been having that problem.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 27th, 2010 @ 8:21am

    Re: Re: Story Already Updated

    When the aliens come to take away our jobs and try to feed us space tacos you'll be glad we had all the nukes we have now to blow up their orbiting cheap labor platforms....IN SPACE!

     

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  11.  
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    Freak, Oct 27th, 2010 @ 8:21am

    Interesting, isn't it? Everytime the conservative side of things wants to say we should start spending more on weapons, all of a sudden we start reporting on almost, but not quite regular occurrences. (Other sources indicate that this is common for 3/4 missiles at a time, and not unseen for a dozen or so, but abnormal, (not unexpected, just rare), for an entire squadron)

    Like recently, in Canada, the news reported about Russian fighters testing out resistance at the Canadian border. Happens all the time. Conveniently for Harper, of course, it comes just before he needs to convince Canadians to spend more on the military.

    Dollars to donuts that you guys are talking or going to start talking about spending more on nuclear weapons.

    Sorry if I'm a bit jaded, mike, but it hardly seems like real news.

     

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  12.  
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    Joe Glow, Oct 27th, 2010 @ 8:29am

    Re: Re: Re: Story Already Updated

    Bonus points for managing to make A Fallout and an Ender's Game reference for the same story.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 27th, 2010 @ 8:33am

    Re: No worries...

    Loved 1&2. Fallout 3, not so much.
    Fallout New Vegas is pretty good though, since a few folks of the original team were involved.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 27th, 2010 @ 8:40am

    Re: Re: Re: Story Already Updated

    Hellooo! These missiles are _InterContinental_ Ballistic Missiles. You can only target continents.

    Such ignorance...

    /Yes, this is sarcasm, why do you ask?

     

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  15.  
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    R. Miles (profile), Oct 27th, 2010 @ 8:40am

    WOULD YOU LIKE TO PLAY A GAME?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
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    Berenerd (profile), Oct 27th, 2010 @ 8:44am

    Why didn't they think of this...

    when the WOPR threatened to take us to war...why didn't they just unplug it...GAWD!!!!


    What? Am I the ONLY one that remembers the movie "Wargames"?

    Would you like to play a game?

     

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  17.  
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    Will Sizemore (profile), Oct 27th, 2010 @ 8:56am

    Movies

    Have any of you seen Failsafe? My college "Ethics in the Computer Age" professor showed us the original and to put it simply, the opposite happened. After the launch against Russia, the one component that caused the single point of failure meant we couldn't stop an unprovoked assail against the Russians. The pres then nuked NYC and his wife, which should have actually been the real story. :D

     

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  18.  
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    The Groove Tiger (profile), Oct 27th, 2010 @ 8:56am

    Re:

    GLOBAL THERMONUCLEAR WAR

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
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    The Groove Tiger (profile), Oct 27th, 2010 @ 8:58am

    Re: Why didn't they think of this...

    Because the missile silos were rigged to launch all their nukes simultaneously on the USSR if they lost contact with WOPR, interpreting it as an attack.

     

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  20.  
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    Rekrul, Oct 27th, 2010 @ 9:35am

    Skynet is waking up...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
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    Will Sizemore (profile), Oct 27th, 2010 @ 9:35am

    Re: Re: Why didn't they think of this...

    Yeah, sure, but did the president REALLY love his wife, or was this a convenient way to have her assassinated along with the rest of NYC?

    The technology that the government uses is built by contractors who charge way too much for the services provided, in some cases. I know, because when I was a soldier, I had to modify what some of these companies sold us, in order to make it work as advertised. Not all government contractors are bad, and I know at least one company that is just as frustrated. As a soldier, I worked with some of those employees who put in LONG, unpaid hours right alongside me to help fix what another company sold to the Army.

    And to answer the question of, "Why didn't they think of this..." I say that the decision-makers behind this may well have thought of it. That's why there were backups and contingency plans. In everything you do, whether you realize it or not, you probably conduct a risk assessment. The likelihood of this sort of failure was probably so slim that it was deemed an acceptable risk.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 27th, 2010 @ 9:44am

    Canada has an airforce? I thought maybe the Mounties just took out their revolver and fired at MIG's.

    On a good day, the US Salvation Army could take Canada out.

     

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  23.  
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    Revelati, Oct 27th, 2010 @ 9:54am

    The crazy thing is a first strike against Iran, NK, and various other rogue states would work just fine right now. Russia and China would be the only countries with the ability to retaliate and neither would risk global nuclear war for attacks that weren't targeted specifically at their countries. Hell 1/2 of Russias nukes would blow up in their own silos. China only has a handful of ICBMs that could reach the continental US, and the new missile shield might catch a few of those.

    I'm sure the international community would poo-poo the US and impose a sanction or two, but that crap doesn't really mean anything.

    Only real drawback I could see would be a few civilian megadeaths and a couple of radioactive clouds wafting around Asia.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
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    R. Miles (profile), Oct 27th, 2010 @ 9:57am

    Re: Re:

    ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO PLAY?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 27th, 2010 @ 10:28am

    Re:

    Dude, play some DEFCON and try not to take any hits. Then come tell us how many cities in the world were NOT hit by a nuke.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
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    A Dan (profile), Oct 27th, 2010 @ 10:29am

    Re: Why didn't they think of this...

    The best part about this post is that you made it 4 minutes after someone else made a War Games reference.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
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    Atkray (profile), Oct 27th, 2010 @ 10:43am

    Re: Re: Re:

    NUMBER OF PLAYERS 0

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
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    TheOldFart (profile), Oct 27th, 2010 @ 11:31am

    The "lose codes" claim is probably bogus

    More than one person thinks there are some pretty significant holes in the claims made in Shelton's book.

    http://hoffman.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/10/21/what_s_missing

    Seems more likely that it's an author trying to sell a book based on sensational claims.

    IMO what happens with/to land based missiles is high in snore factor. The only serious threat to anyone are the submarine launched missiles. With a land based missile you have a fair amount of time to recover from a mistake. With a submarine launched missile you may have as little as 10-15 minutes to find and press the "Unf**k It" button before the open-air people crisp market has its grand opening.

    I can't think of any agency in the federal government who can react within 10-15 minutes of anything except the Department of Spin Control and I doubt they have access to that bright yellow button with "Oops! Don't Panic!" written on it in large, friendly letters.

     

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  29.  
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    Steve Hall, Oct 27th, 2010 @ 11:38am

    At the height of the cold war, the US had 2,054 ICBMs. (Some of those had multiple warheads, but the number still never was 6,000.)

    It is, and never has been, unusual for a Launch Control Center to lose contact with a squadron of 50 Minuteman ICBMs; however, there are four other LCCs that retain the capability to fully monitor them (and launch them, if necessary).

    This is another example of lousy (nonexistent?) fact-checking, and the spreading of more FUD.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
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    btr1701 (profile), Oct 27th, 2010 @ 12:27pm

    Nukes

    On the positive side, if the connections to the nukes are failing, at least Skynet won't be able to access them either.

     

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  31.  
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    SLK8ne, Oct 27th, 2010 @ 1:43pm

    Re: No worries...

    Yep, and I look good in a one sleeved leather jacket, so bring it on. ;o)

    I wonder if brahmin are twice as smart as the average cow?

     

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  32.  
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    SLK8ne, Oct 27th, 2010 @ 1:46pm

    Re: Story Already Updated

    Dang! Skynet is acting up again, oh well when it takes over the network everything will be fin...............

     

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  33.  
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    SLK8ne, Oct 27th, 2010 @ 1:49pm

    Re: looking like the USSR

    Pretty much. And we're probably headed toward the same fate too. Look how long it took the "experts" to plug that oil leak, or the fact that Chile can rescue it's miners, but, we can't.
    Where's my shovel, I need to get back to building that bomb shelter.

     

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  34.  
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    chris (profile), Oct 27th, 2010 @ 1:52pm

    Re: Re: Re: Story Already Updated

    NO! Then the Germans...wait, the Russians...wait, the terrorists...wait, the Iraqis....wait....who are we supposed to be afraid of now? Is it the formics yet?

    it's eurasia. it's always been eurasia and it always will be eastasia.

     

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  35.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 27th, 2010 @ 4:39pm

    Re:

    At the height of the cold war, the US had 2,054 ICBMs. (Some of those had multiple warheads, but the number still never was 6,000.)

    To be clear, it was a commenter who suggested that, not me.

    It is, and never has been, unusual for a Launch Control Center to lose contact with a squadron of 50 Minuteman ICBMs; however, there are four other LCCs that retain the capability to fully monitor them (and launch them, if necessary).

    It would appear that many of the experts quoted in the Wired article disagree with you.


    "Over the course of 300 alerts -- those are 24-hour shifts in the capsule -- I saw this happen to three or four missiles, maybe," says John Noonan, a former U.S. Air Force missile launch officer who first tweeted word of the issue. "This is 50 ICBMs dropping off at once. I never heard of anything like it."

    "There are plans and procedures available to deal with individual broken missiles," Noonan adds, "but they are wholly inadequate to handle an entire squadron of missiles dropping offline."


    That's from someone who was a missile launch officer. What have you done?

    Furthermore if there was nothing out of the ordinary here, then why did the original report note that "the outage is considered serious enough that the very highest rungs on the chain of command — including the President — are being briefed on the incident today."

     

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  36.  
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    Robert Ring (profile), Oct 27th, 2010 @ 5:41pm

    Re: No worries...

    And you get these SWEET computerized wristbands.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
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    Gladius, Oct 27th, 2010 @ 6:38pm

    Re: Movies

    Before or after they built a wall around NYC and locked all the violent people in?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
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    Gladius, Oct 27th, 2010 @ 6:39pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    WAIT! WAIT! I MEANT TIC TAC TOE!!!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 27th, 2010 @ 9:47pm

    Re:

    "couple of radioactive clouds wafting around Asia"

    You know the earth is round and spins, right? Weather is global.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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