Bent Spear

How Nuclear Warheads Made Unplanned Flight

AGM-129 ACMToday’s Washington Post has a front page story on the accidental flight of six AGM-129 nuclear cruise missiles from North Dakota to Louisiana last month. It’s worth a read.

Though I’m not really going all alarmist crying about “60 Hiroshimas”, or claiming that one nuclear weapons was stolen by rogue elements of the military for use against a Democratic-held US city, this was obviously a very serious breach of procedure and must be dealt with quickly and harshly.

As for the AGM-129s, which are being deactivated and removed from inventory, are there any plans to use the missiles (minus warheads) for anything? I haven’t heard about any plans, but wouldn’t conventional warheads or surveillance equipment for well-defended targets make sense? We should have around 400 of the things left, and they weren’t cheap and they’re fairly capable pieces of equipment.

Or do treaties require their destruction?


  1. The Air Force intends to remove from service, demilitarize and destroy all ACMs and the excess ALCM missile bodies. The remaining nuclear cruise missile force will be consolidated at Minot AFB, North Dakota. As of this date, the Air Force has taken no irreversible actions as it seeks final congressional approval to demilitarize and destroy these missile bodies. These cruise missile force structure changes are part of a balanced force reduction that supports both Presidential direction to reduce the active nuclear stockpile, as well as the United States’obligation under the 2002 Moscow Treaty to reduce the number of operationally deployed strategic nuclear warheads to 1700-2200 warheads.’

  2. So………….has anyone heard how these glass bottom lake excavators managed to fly from state to state in an unauthorised fashion? I’m not real hip to the technical intricacies of nuclear cruise misslie operation (though I’d like to be!), but I’m pretty sure there must have been a human in the loop. As to long sterm storage of these weapons (if and when they are removed from inventory………….I’m sure most of you are ancient enough (LOL!) to remember the basing/deployment controversy of the ‘Peacekeeper’ ICBM during the first Reagan Administration. There were plans to put them on trucks and drive them around, put them on rail road trains and drive them around, put’em in conventional silos, etc, etc……………….Anyway……….I actually wrote to the Air Force; telling them I understood there was a fair amount of controversy surrounding these vital components of our National Defense. Many people were understandably reluctant to have nuclear missles in or driving through their area (risk of Russian glass bottom lake excavators and all that)………nevertheless; I, as a dutiful American, was willing to allow the Air Force to station a Peacekeeper in my yard in rural Michigan. Oddly enough, I never heard anything back from the Air Force……….though coincidentally………..there’s been a dark colored van parked in front of my house ever since then! WTHeck??? OK………….I made the part about the dark van up. LOL!

  3. I believe that this error was the result of confluence of conditions that are technically described as a clusterfuck. Starting with the decision to house nukes and non-nukes in the same bunker.

  4. I do belive there is a conventional warhead version of those missles. I don’d see why they couldn’t load them up with some other 290 lbs warhead/payload and use them for something else. Hehe, glass bottom lake excavator…I like that. I looked up some of the specs. Those puppies are supposed to have a 290lbs variable yield (5 to 150 kt nominal yield) warhead. FUN! Anyone get a solid count…Military times and Army times couldn’t agree on if it was 5 or 6 warheads.