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(Omaha World Herald)   The oldest atomic bomb in the United States--good old B61, currently housed at Offut Air Force Base in Omaha--needs serious electronic upgrades, or else it could explode without warning   (omaha.com) divider line 197
    More: Scary, Offutt Air Force Base, US Strategic Command, United States, Omaha, nuclear weapons, Budgetary Assessments, strategic bomber, National Nuclear Security Administration  
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13573 clicks; posted to Main » on 23 Sep 2013 at 12:59 AM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-09-22 11:41:03 PM  
Oh, details.

Seriously, we could save a shaitload of money and still be able to blow up the world twice over if we decommissioned half or 2/3 of our nukes. This ain't the cold war. They're a money pit and they're useless, above a certain minimum. Or are we prepping for an alien invasion?

Look, if US Strategic command knows something I don't, keep 'em. But really, for once in this nation's history can we please tailor our military resources to, you know, actual threats?
 
2013-09-22 11:47:51 PM  

cptjeff: can we please tailor our military resources to, you know, actual threats?


As long as you have military contractors who receive 99% of their income in the form of government contracts, and then use the proceeds to lobby congress for moar bombz, it'll never end.

I heard a blurb a while back about a bill that would have prevented firms who receive more than 50% of their income from government contracts from being able to lobby Congress, but I'm sure the guy who sponsored that had a nasty accident and slipped on his tea or something..
 
2013-09-22 11:49:36 PM  
Just bury it in a playground.
 
2013-09-22 11:58:03 PM  
Phenomenology...
 
2013-09-23 12:17:47 AM  
They want to put precision guidance tail packages on  nuclear gravity bombs?

I'm speechless.
 
2013-09-23 12:30:06 AM  
Megaton needs the Lone Wanderer. With mentats.
 
2013-09-23 12:35:31 AM  

Nadie_AZ: Megaton needs the Lone Wanderer. With mentats.


*shakes tiny fist*
 
2013-09-23 12:39:03 AM  
johnthewitness.files.wordpress.com
 
2013-09-23 12:54:25 AM  
Don't we have bases in, I dunno, Iraq or Iran, where we can safely store these things until we no longer need to worry about safely storing them?
 
2013-09-23 12:58:54 AM  
or else it could explode without warning

suuure
 
2013-09-23 01:02:00 AM  
How would people in nebraska notice compared to the meltdown against UCLA?
 
2013-09-23 01:02:04 AM  
That would be AWESOME.

Does it need anything to happen first, an earthquake or some kind of high wind?
 
2013-09-23 01:03:09 AM  
"The B61 life-extension program is absolutely necessary," Kehler said in an interview with The World-Herald. "Much has been deferred. Now we don't have the luxury of waiting."

Quick! Find or make up an enemy! WWWAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! Military welfare for all!!!!
 
2013-09-23 01:03:49 AM  
Snotnose:   Don't we have bases in, I dunno, Iraq or Iran, where we can safely store these things until we no longer need to worry about safely storing them?


We have bases in Iran?  That's awesome.  I must have slept through that whole peace negotiation process with Iran.
 
2013-09-23 01:05:14 AM  
fta "The B61 life-extension program is absolutely necessary,"

Because if anything needs thwarting, it's a Soviet ground invasion of Western Europe.
 
2013-09-23 01:05:31 AM  
So, decommission them.
 
2013-09-23 01:06:11 AM  
or else it could explode without warning

Subby just made that up.  It would merely be rendered useless.
 
2013-09-23 01:08:30 AM  

Choo-Choo Bear: or else it could explode without warning

Subby just made that up.  It would merely be rendered useless.


I was thinking that generally when I'm dealing with something that could explode without warning and take out a medium-sized city... I usually pull one of the wires, or disconnect the power source.

I don't always do that, but I try to make a habit of it.
 
2013-09-23 01:10:07 AM  
I still cling to a post apocalyptic America... where war. War never changes. In Ron Perlman's voice.
 
2013-09-23 01:10:12 AM  
 
2013-09-23 01:10:41 AM  

ElLoco: Choo-Choo Bear: or else it could explode without warning

Subby just made that up.  It would merely be rendered useless.

I was thinking that generally when I'm dealing with something that could explode without warning and take out a medium-sized city... I usually pull one of the wires, or disconnect the power source.

I don't always do that, but I try to make a habit of it.


You could also try a box of chocolates and a bottle of wine.
 
2013-09-23 01:11:37 AM  
cineplex.media.baselineresearch.com

You used photostrobes?
 
2013-09-23 01:14:01 AM  

F-14Tomcat: They want to put precision guidance tail packages on  nuclear gravity bombs?

I'm speechless.


Sure why not? They are tacts with a (relatively) low yield.
 
2013-09-23 01:16:37 AM  
If it did explode in Nebraska, it might be years before anyone hears about it...

/paraphrase of Blofeld
 
2013-09-23 01:19:07 AM  
Only causes a 0.3 to 340 KT blast, depending on the yield it was set for.  So somewhere between a really large dirty bomb to being large enough to take out, oh, Providence.

/yeah, ONLY 340 KT he says
//better than anything in the MT range
 
2013-09-23 01:19:44 AM  
Lest you be concerned, this is about the degradation of the total nuclear force, not any bombs going off unexpectedly. The explosive itself might be destabilizing, but even if the explosive goes off it won't set the nuke off because there are fail-safes. The proof is in every accident with nuclear bombs we've ever had, the Thule incident, the Palomares incident, the Tybee island incident... they are designed that way. Also, the nuclear material can be removed and inserted as needed. There will be a big boom to the tune of around 2000 pounds, but not Hiroshima.

What is at issue is the balance of power. If you believe that MAD works, the degradation of any part of the Nuclear Triad represents a greater possibility of someone (specifically Russia) engaging in a nuclear war because they believe they can win. The idea is that if the planes are caught on the ground the subs and missiles can still do the job, or if the subs are somehow sunk the planes and missiles... etc. That's why we have so many of the damn things, because we want to make sure that the enemy will be wiped out completely, and more to the point we want THEM to know it.

So, this isn't particularly good news. While it isn't quite world-ending, it goes a small distance to that. And since most people don't understand all of this, the only way to get them to wake up is to intimate that they might go off on their own and crater Barksdale or Offutt and the surrounding 100 miles in a megaton explosion. It can't happen, and it won't happen.

Last, the standard argument for saving the rice bowl most important to you is that it represents such a small portion of the budget that it shouldn't be cut, something bigger should. Well, this represents such a small portion of the budget that it shouldn't be cut. That these small no-cut rice bowls add up to serious ducats is irrelevant because it's only just the one thing, nobody will notice. I hope you noticed that I think it's a stupid argument, so unless you're interested in having a serious discussion about cutting your pet program you ought not hammer on the cost of this too seriously.
 
2013-09-23 01:21:10 AM  
I wonder what the cost of decommissioning them safely is vs upgrading them to extend their life.  If it's only a little bit more to keep them useful, we might as well do that.  If we have plenty of other bombs that can fill the same role, and it's a lot cheaper just to scrap them, perhaps we should look at doing that.
 
2013-09-23 01:24:17 AM  

Lsherm: violentsalvation: or else it could explode without warning

suuure

I'm thinking they could just remove the detonators if they were worried about an accidental explosion.  About a million things have to go right to correctly detonate an atomic bomb, even an old one.


I think if these things were at any risk of spontaneous detonation they'd be immediately decommissioned and dismantled instead of spread all over the world, ready for immediate use.
 
2013-09-23 01:25:15 AM  
bellevue. it's in bellevue, not omaha

and very close, too close, to where I sit at work every night.
 
2013-09-23 01:25:18 AM  
 
2013-09-23 01:26:35 AM  

Omahawg: bellevue. it's in bellevue, not omaha

and very close, too close, to where I sit at work every night.


So can I have your TF?
 
2013-09-23 01:28:44 AM  

Notabunny: Omahawg: bellevue. it's in bellevue, not omaha

and very close, too close, to where I sit at work every night.

So can I have your TF?


sure

growing up I figured we'd get turned to cinders 'cause of the proximity of that place. now, even without the soviets, it haunts my dreams.

I still miss waving at the pilots inside the Looking Glass though. damn those planes few low
 
2013-09-23 01:28:59 AM  

cretinbob: Sure why not? They are tacts with a (relatively) low yield.


Lsherm: Ideally they'd all be retrofitted for battlefield deployment. We don't need nuclear weapons to decimate cities anymore, just particular fields of battle. Or ships.


Tell me about your plan to control the risks of nuclear escalation during a crisis where the U.S. decides to use tactical nukes on a battlefield. Against which enemies would a tactical nuke be useful in a way that conventional weapons + a strategic nuclear deterrent would not be? Is there any situation under which the benefits of using a tactical nuke would outweigh the long-term political costs?

Also, the argument that the presence of B61s in Europe 'reassures' the allies there is not very strong. If they were going to mount them up on F-16s and fly them to Russia, that would already be in the middle of a massive conventional air campaign and possible strategic nuclear exchange. What additional value do they add to the deterrence calculations of the sides?
 
2013-09-23 01:29:32 AM  
Don't tell me, i know. It needs to be recapped.
 
2013-09-23 01:29:43 AM  
Garland became a folk hero in Utah when he stood up at an MX hearing in the early 1980s and said, "We've heard about the racetrack-basing mode and the railroad-basing mode, well, I think they should all be put in the commode."

http://www.hcn.org/issues/32/920/print_view
 
2013-09-23 01:29:49 AM  
340 kt is rather large.

You can kill most cities with a quarter of that.
 
2013-09-23 01:33:45 AM  

cretinbob: F-14Tomcat: They want to put precision guidance tail packages on  nuclear gravity bombs?

I'm speechless.

Sure why not? They are tacts with a (relatively) low yield.


Little Boy was 12-18 kt from contemporary observations (16 was the later settled upon yield). It produced a blast radius of ~1 mile.

A quick wiki has the yield of the B61 being .3-345 kt.

I don't know what the break down of how many of what yield we have, but tail guidance packages seem a bit stupid once you get into the integer kiloton yields.
 
2013-09-23 01:40:12 AM  
Here's your problem.scontent-b-pao.xx.fbcdn.net
 
2013-09-23 01:41:06 AM  

Adolf Oliver Nipples: What is at issue is the balance of power. If you believe that MAD works, the degradation of any part of the Nuclear Triad represents a greater possibility of someone (specifically Russia) engaging in a nuclear war because they believe they can win. The idea is that if the planes are caught on the ground the subs and missiles can still do the job, or if the subs are somehow sunk the planes and missiles... etc. That's why we have so many of the damn things, because we want to make sure that the enemy will be wiped out completely, and more to the point we want THEM to know it.


I don't think anyone has believed you can 'win' a nuclear war in forty years. If there are any, they are either nuts or academics. Sometimes both.

Another element of MAD to bear in mind is that it operates on uncertainty. Because the costs of screwing up are so high, even if Russia would be fairly certain it would 'win' a nuclear exchange, the slim chance several U.S. nukes would make it through should be enough to dissuade them from going for a first strike. And the idea that Russia has somehow invested in hyper-futuristic ASW tech + a working ICBM-shield is absolutely fantastical in the first place.
 
2013-09-23 01:42:30 AM  
Somebody set up us the bomb!
 
2013-09-23 01:49:32 AM  

Seth'n'Spectrum: cretinbob: Sure why not? They are tacts with a (relatively) low yield.

Lsherm: Ideally they'd all be retrofitted for battlefield deployment. We don't need nuclear weapons to decimate cities anymore, just particular fields of battle. Or ships.

Tell me about your plan to control the risks of nuclear escalation during a crisis where the U.S. decides to use tactical nukes on a battlefield. Against which enemies would a tactical nuke be useful in a way that conventional weapons + a strategic nuclear deterrent would not be? Is there any situation under which the benefits of using a tactical nuke would outweigh the long-term political costs?

Also, the argument that the presence of B61s in Europe 'reassures' the allies there is not very strong. If they were going to mount them up on F-16s and fly them to Russia, that would already be in the middle of a massive conventional air campaign and possible strategic nuclear exchange. What additional value do they add to the deterrence calculations of the sides?


See my original comment about decommissioning them. I believe we could pull all nukes from Europe, even though Putin an evil farker.

The nuclear war will be between India and Pakistan. Any detoation that occurs in the US will not come from a specific state, just like 9-11.
The ground penetrating variant is really the only one I see useful for attacking hardened underground targets.


//something something second amendment
 
2013-09-23 01:53:15 AM  

pnkgtr: Here's your problem.


RT if you blew up Megaton the first time.
 
2013-09-23 01:55:35 AM  

RoyBatty: Phenomenology...


You see how that ended up, right?

/let there be light...
 
2013-09-23 01:59:54 AM  
Or just get rid of them and have a few less nuclear weapons floating around. Save a bunch of money by not having to upgrade them or secure them.


We seriously need to farking let go of more nukes. We need nuclear agreements that let us reduce weapon counts and modernise in anticipation of new technologies without labeling them new bombs. The Russians and Chinese and whoever else should be allowed to do that same.
 
2013-09-23 02:01:20 AM  
Oh gee, subby, thanks for this. Now I won't sleep.
 
2013-09-23 02:01:21 AM  

Seth'n'Spectrum: Adolf Oliver Nipples: What is at issue is the balance of power. If you believe that MAD works, the degradation of any part of the Nuclear Triad represents a greater possibility of someone (specifically Russia) engaging in a nuclear war because they believe they can win. The idea is that if the planes are caught on the ground the subs and missiles can still do the job, or if the subs are somehow sunk the planes and missiles... etc. That's why we have so many of the damn things, because we want to make sure that the enemy will be wiped out completely, and more to the point we want THEM to know it.

I don't think anyone has believed you can 'win' a nuclear war in forty years. If there are any, they are either nuts or academics. Sometimes both.

Another element of MAD to bear in mind is that it operates on uncertainty. Because the costs of screwing up are so high, even if Russia would be fairly certain it would 'win' a nuclear exchange, the slim chance several U.S. nukes would make it through should be enough to dissuade them from going for a first strike. And the idea that Russia has somehow invested in hyper-futuristic ASW tech + a working ICBM-shield is absolutely fantastical in the first place.


I believe that is true, and another reason why 'tactical' nukes don't make a lot of sense to me.  The nuclear-armed rogue nations have very few nukes and ineffective means of getting them here, so they're not a big concern.  If NK did manage to stick one on a cargo ship heading into LA or something like that, we could pound them down with conventional weapon anyway.

Russia and the US have enough means of delivery and enough of an arsenal that the minute either launched an assault, the response from the other would be devastating.  Russia's subs are almost as good as ours, and while they don't have stealth bombers, they have plenty of ICBMs.  There's no way for either country to knock the other out with a single punch, and any punch thrown is going to lead to a full out bombardment, so what's the point of the smaller devices anyway?
 
2013-09-23 02:03:27 AM  
and we care why?

It  Utah
 
2013-09-23 02:04:22 AM  

Choo-Choo Bear: or else it could explode without warning

Subby just made that up.  It would merely be rendered useless.


Also, not an "it". Submitter didn't bother reading TFA at all; this is about an entire class of bombs, hundreds of units, not just one museum piece.
 
2013-09-23 02:04:36 AM  

Lsherm: violentsalvation: or else it could explode without warning

suuure

I'm thinking they could just remove the detonators if they were worried about an accidental explosion.  About a million things have to go right to correctly detonate an atomic bomb, even an old one.


Well, that's true if you're trying to do it from outside. However, there's a device that's specifically engineered to do all those things, and it's the electronics. You can get failures that seem like a valid trigger sequence, and although there's a really limited set of single point failure mechanisms, the most likely one will give you an unboosted primary-only detonation. But even then, it's pretty messy.
 
2013-09-23 02:07:23 AM  

studebaker hoch: 340 kt is rather large.

You can kill most cities with a quarter of that.


340kt is rather small compared to the megaton or rumored gigaton devices.

http://meyerweb.com/eric/tools/gmap/hydesim.html

The degradation on that device would probably not even let it detonate or produce anything close to its intended yield. You can't bathe electronics and metals in high level radiation without that material degrading badly.
 
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