posted on Mar, 27 2004 @ 11:17 PM
A little more background info, of the deployment of PAL's, as well as applications in different divisions of the military.
The U.S. military resisted PALs for a long time. Eventually, they were persuaded because of the greater freedom it gave them: in times of tension,
they could disperse nuclear weapons to block easy destruction or capture, while still retaining control over their use.
PALs are supplemented by "coded switch systems". These are devices that prevent the release or launch of an armed nuclear weapon. For example,
when B-1 bombers are on alert, the PALs in their weapons are unlocked before takeoff. But the crew can't use those weapons until they receive an
authorization code. (In some planes, the crew can communicate with the PALs from the cockpit. This feature was omitted in the B-1, apparently as a
Given this, it is not surprising that Navy weapons are not protected by PALs. In their normal environment, there is relatively little risk of
capture, no foreign nationals have custody, and communications with (especially) submarines is somewhat problematic. Only when the weapons are brought
ashore is a PAL activated, and then only for things like nuclear depth charges [B93, SF87]. In place of PALs, an elaborate set of procedures,
involving the PA system, several different keys, and the participation of most of the crew is necessary for a nuclear submarine to launch its missiles
[C87c]. All that notwithstanding, a use control system, apparently similar to the coded switch systems, has recently been added to the submarine
I find this interesting as it implies a leased-out armorment to other countries, but the electronic keys remain with the title owner.
Basically any nuclear ally with a SOFA agreement, does not control any US owned nuclear weapon that is on their soil.
The Nuclear weapon is there in another country, and not necessarily guarded by the US military, but is useless to the holder without US
[Edited on 27-3-2004 by smirkley]