|Aviation Week & Space Technology
07/28/2008 , page 26
The U.S. Air Force recently found that nuclear launch codes were left unsecured while an intercontinental ballistic missile crew was “topside” at one of the remote silos at Minot AFB, N.D., on July 12. The classified data was in a locked container, but the crew had fallen asleep. USAF officials concluded the data was not compromised because “access to the [missile alert facility] was continually controlled by Air Force Security Forces and the codes had been superseded and were unusable,” according to a service statement. This is the most recent foul-up in USAF oversight of its nuclear arsenal. A shipment of nuclear nose cones was erroneously sent to Taiwan, and air-launched nuclear-tipped missiles last year were flown across the U.S. without proper clearance. The loose management of nuclear weapons was one reason cited for the recent firing of the USAF secretary and chief of staff.