— The Erimtan Angle —


‘AP was given special access inside an American nuclear missile command center and found antiquated equipment supporting the nation’s deadliest weapons – adding to problems plaguing the Air Force that include low morale and security lapses. (8 July 2014)’.

AP’s Robert Burns explains further that the “nuclear missiles hidden in plain view across the prairies of northwest North Dakota reveal one reason why trouble keeps finding the nuclear Air Force. The ‘Big Sticks’, as some call the 60-foot-tall Minuteman 3 missiles, are just plain old. The Air Force asserts with pride that the missile system, more than 40 years old and designed during the Cold War to counter the now-defunct Soviet Union, is safe and secure. None has ever been used in combat or launched accidentally. But it also admits to fraying at the edges: time-worn command posts, corroded launch silos, failing support equipment and an emergency-response helicopter fleet so antiquated that a replacement was deemed ‘critical’ years ago. The Minuteman is no ordinary weapon. The business end of the missile can deliver mass destruction across the globe as quickly as you could have a pizza delivered to your doorstep”.[1]

The Systems Specialist-information Technology/telecom James Kirkpatrick, who has worked in the University of Wyoming Division of Information Technology from 1972 to 2007, states on a dedicated website that the “Minuteman missile was named for the American Revolutionary War militia who could (as legend has it) be ready to fight in one minute. Unlike most of its predecessor ICBMs such as Atlas and Titan I, Minuteman can be launched very quickly because of its solid-fuel rocket motor. Titan II was liquid fueled but could also be launched very quickly. Early in the program it was known as Weapon System Q but renamed to Minuteman around February 1958. Minuteman I was known as SM-80, LGM30A/B, and HSM-80A/B. Minuteman II was known as LGM-30F. Minuteman III is known as LGM-30G. Minuteman III has three warheads though treaties will reduce that to one. The three stages of Minuteman III missiles are manufactured by three different contractors (Thiokol, Aerojet-General, and United Technologies). Fifty Minuteman III launch facilities (and five alert facilities) around Warren AFB (flights P through T) were converted to the Peacekeeper (MX) system in the late 1980s but as of October 2005 all fifty have been retired and the facilities decomissioned. As of 2005, Warren’s missiles have been reduced to one warhead. But those at Minot and Malmstrom will have a mix of between one and three warheads (it sounds like the Air Force is either undecided or does not wish to be clear on the question)”.[2]

The journalist Burns adds that “even as the Minuteman has been updated over the years and remains ready for launch on short notice, the items that support it have grown old. That partly explains why missile corps morale has sagged and discipline has sometimes faltered, as revealed in a series of Associated Press reports documenting leadership, training, disciplinary and other problems in the ICBM force that has prompted worry at the highest levels of the Pentagon. The airmen who operate, maintain and guard the Minuteman force at bases in North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming came to recognize a gap between the Air Force’s claim that the nuclear mission is “Job 1” and its willingness to invest in it”. [3]

In 2012, Michelle Spencer, Aadina Ludin and Heather Nelson compiled a report detailing just how dangerous the situation has become nowadays: “[o]n August 31, 2007, a U.S. Air Force B-52 plane with the call sign ―Doom 99‖ took off from Minot Air Force Base (AFB), North Dakota, inadvertently loaded with six Advanced Cruise Missiles loaded with nuclear warheads and flew to Barksdale AFB, Louisiana. After landing, ―Doom 99‖ sat on the tarmac at Barksdale unguarded for nine hours before the nuclear weapons were discovered”.[4] Burns says that the Spencer-Ludin-Nelson “study found that Air Force leaders were ‘cynical about the nuclear mission, its future and its true – versus publicly stated – priority to the Air Force’. Several key leadership posts have since changed hands, and while [Michelle] Spencer says she sees important improvements, she’s worried about the Air Force’s commitment to getting the nuclear forces what they need”.[5] In other words, the U.S. is sitting on top of a bunch of lethal weapons that could theoretically wipe out life as we know it, but the authorities do not seem overly concerned and this might very well lead to serious problems in the future . . . problems that would not just affect North Dakota and the U.S., but potentially the whole of the world . . .


[1] Robert Burns, “Why nukes keep finding trouble: They’re really old” AP (08 July 2014). http://www.mercedsunstar.com/2014/07/08/3736956/why-nukes-keep-finding-trouble.html.

[2] Jim Kirkpatrick, “Minuteman Missile Site Coordinates”. http://w3.uwyo.edu/~jimkirk/minuteman.html.

[3] Robert Burns, “Why nukes keep finding trouble: They’re really old”.

[4] Michelle Spencer, Aadina Ludin & Heather Nelson,”The Unauthorized Movement of Nuclear Weapons and Mistaken Shipment of Classified Missile Components”, p. 1. http://timeswampland.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/ada557097.pdf.

[5] Robert Burns, “Why nukes keep finding trouble: They’re really old”..


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