Nuclear fault leaves US missiles out of touch

Sunday 23 October 2011 01:19

An equipment failure disrupted communication between 50 nuclear missiles and a launch control centre over the weekend, although the Air Force never lost the ability to launch the missiles.

Air Force spokesman Lt Col Todd Vician said the break occurred on Saturday at Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming and lasted less than an hour. The White House was briefed about the failure. There was no evidence of foul play, officials said.

The Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles are part of the 319th Missile Squadron stockpiled at the base, where 150 ICBMs are located. The failure affected 50 of them, or one-ninth of the US arsenal.

The equipment failure disrupted "communication between the control centre and the missiles, but during that time they were still able to monitor the security of the affected missiles," Col Vician said.

The launch control centre computers communicate through an underground cable, but Vician could not confirm the cable was the source of the problem. Col Vician said personnel inspected all 50 missile sites and found no evidence of damage.

One military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to discuss the incident publicly, said the equipment in the launch control centre has been the subject of unspecified communications problems in the past.

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