Glitch Boots 50 Nukes Offline

Commanders unable to communicate with ninth of arsenal for nerve-wracking hour
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 27, 2010 3:03 AM CDT
Senior Airmen Mark Pacis, left, and Christopher Carver mount a refurbished nuclear warhead on to the top of a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile inside an underground silo.   (AP Photo/Eric Draper)

(Newser) – A hardware glitch knocked 50 nuclear missiles—a ninth of America's land-based arsenal—offline for nearly an hour over the weekend. Commanders at an Air Force base in Wyoming found themselves unable to communicate with the missiles as engineers scrambled to find out what the problem was, the Atlantic reports. Officials say there is no evidence of foul play, and the missiles could still have been launched by an airborne command and control platform if necessary.

Officials—who say a similar glitch happened a decade ago—stress that there was no danger to the public and no chance of an accidental launch, although the problem was considered serious enough for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to be notified immediately. "This was not insignificant, but at the same time it was not catastrophic," a Pentagon official briefed on the incident tells the Los Angeles Times. (Read more ICBMS stories.)

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