The US Air Force plans to relieve at least five officers of their commands for allowing nuclear-armed missiles to be mistakenly loaded on a B-52 bomber and flown across the United States, the worst known violation of nuclear security in decades.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates is to be briefed Friday on the plan to fire the officers and other results of a six-week Air Force probe into the Aug. 30 incident. No one noticed for hours that the weapons were aboard the eight-engine bomber, several Defense Department officials said.
One said the investigation found long-established procedures for handling the munitions were not followed, and it recommended that five or more officers be relieved of their duties.
All spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record. Two also said parts of the report were being reviewed by senior Air Force officials, and it was unclear whether any changes were planned.