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More than 50 years after a 7,600lb (3,500kg) nuclear bomb was dropped in US waters following a mid-air military collision, the question of whether the missing weapon still poses a threat remains.
In his own mind, retired 87-year-old Colonel Howard Richardson is a hero responsible for one of the most extraordinary displays of aeronautic skill in the history of the US Air Force.
His view carries a lot of weight and he has a large number of supporters - including the Air Force itself which honoured his feat with a Distinguished Flying Cross.
But to others, he is little short of a villain: the man who 50 years ago dropped a nuclear bomb in US waters, a bomb nobody has been able to find and make safe.
Shortly after midnight on 5 February 1958, Howard Richardson was on a top-secret training flight for the US Strategic Air Command.
It was the height of the Cold War and the young Major Richardson's mission was to practise long-distance flights in his B-47 bomber in case he was ordered to fly from Homestead Air Force Base in Florida to any one of the targets the US had identified in Russia.
The training was to be as realistic as possible, so on board was a single massive H-bomb - the nuclear weapon he might one day be instructed to drop to start World War III.
Originally posted by ZeroKnowledge
By the way, i hope it is not too off-topic:
Do nuclear warheads/bombs have expiry date? I mean not half-life of radioactive material, but bomb as a complex. Can it be operational streight away after decades of storage (not on see bed or other extreme examples, but normal military storage shelf life).
Originally posted by Iamonlyhuman
reply to post by tristar
The rest of the story:
Colonel Richardson is adamant that it is incapable of a nuclear explosion because it lacks the vital plutonium trigger.
I do believe this.
Originally posted by Jakes51
I saw that in the article, so in retrospect, his training mission involved an in-operable nuclear device? However, in the event that the weapon falls in the wrongs; isn't reasonable to assume that someone with the nuclear science know-how can create the plutonium trigger to use in the bomb?
Originally posted by fraterormus
Thanks deltaalphanovember for posting the list of known Broken Arrows prior to 1964. You beat me to it!
The media is rather sensationalist about our Broken Arrows. They aren't lost in the respect that we don't know where they are, they are lost in the respect that they are not in our immediate possession. Most of the Broken Arrows are resting in locations that are nigh impossible to reach, although we have known their precise locations for decades.
You could be certain that if someone else tried retrieving any of these Broken Arrows other than the US Gov. or one of their Contractors, that they would be all over it before they even got them on board their ship! Especially since these are early Hydrogen Bombs, they do not have a lot of shielding like more modern devices. The moment they were moved, Satellites would pick them up and alarms would be going off all over the place in the Pentagon.
More modern devices, because of these early Broken Arrows, have location beacons built into them along with self-destruct sequences that can detonate them safely remotely while they are unarmed.
We really should be more concerned about the missing weapons-grade Plutonium that was never recovered after the arrest of Wilhelm Reich. The government still claims to have no idea how he got it, and certainly have no idea where he hid it.