US Air Force punishes 70 in nuclear weapons error

October 20, 2007 04:09

The US Air Force says it has punished 70 airmen involved in the accidental, cross-country flight of a nuclear-armed B-52 bomber following an investigation that found widespread disregard for the rules on handling such munitions. Maj. Gen. Richard Newton announced the results of a six-week probe into the August 29-30 incident in which the B-52, inadvertently armed with six nuclear-tipped cruise missiles, was flown from Minot, near the Canadian border, to Barksdale in Louisiana near the Gulf of Mexico without anyone noticing the mistake for more than a day. The missiles were supposed to have been taken to Louisiana, but the warheads were supposed to have been removed beforehand. A main reason for the error was that crews had decided not to follow a complex schedule under which the status of the missiles is tracked while they are disarmed, loaded, moved and so on, one official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record.

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