One might think that the United States’ nuclear weapons—the cornerstone deterrent in the country’s arsenal—would be treated with the utmost precision.
This comfortable illusion was shaken on Aug. 31, 2007, when crews loaded six live nuclear warheads onto a B-52 bomber and flew from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, cruising over the nation’s heartland. Each warhead was 10 times more powerful than the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II.
During the analysis of the incident by the Defense Science Board (DSB), released this month, the ugly truth came out: America’s nukes are so neglected that they are stored alongside conventional missiles, with nothing but an 8.5 x 11-in. sheet of paper to differentiate the two. The last day in August, Air Force personnel loaded the nuclear warheads on a routine repositioning of weapons stocks, believing them to be cruise missiles.
The system of checks and balances has degraded to a point that six of the planet’s most powerful weapons were missing for 36 hours—and no one noticed until they had landed in Louisiana. "The process and systemic problems that allowed such an incident have developed over more than a decade and have the potential for much more serious consequences," the report warns.
Life imitates Metal Gear Solid. :P