USA — No Significant Threat From Missile Communication Glitch, Officials Say

WASHINGTON, Oct. 27, 2010 — The pub­lic was nev­er endan­gered when launch con­trol cen­ter lost com­mu­ni­ca­tion with bal­lis­tic mis­siles Oct. 23, an Air Force spokesman said today.

The glitch sus­pend­ed com­mu­ni­ca­tion between 50 Min­ute­man III inter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­siles a con­trol cen­ter at F.E. War­ren Air Force Base near Cheyenne, Wyo., for near­ly 45 min­utes, said Lt. Col. John Thomas, a spokesman for the Air Force’s Glob­al Strike Com­mand at Barks­dale Air Force Base, La.

The Wyoming Air Force base has 450 of the Min­ute­man mis­siles.

Com­bat mis­sile crews iso­lat­ed the com­mu­ni­ca­tion prob­lem and returned the sys­tem to nor­mal oper­a­tions, Air Force offi­cials said in a state­ment.

Thomas told Amer­i­can Forces Press Ser­vice that analy­sis of the dis­rup­tion remains under way, although the cause appears to be a launch con­trol cen­ter that “did­n’t wait to take its turn.”

“We got unver­i­fi­able info because [the cen­ter] was try­ing to com­mu­ni­cate in the wrong time slot,” he said. “As soon as we detect­ed an anom­aly, we made a point to check on the phys­i­cal secu­ri­ty of the mis­siles.”

Secu­ri­ty forces with tele­vi­sion cam­eras sur­veyed each of the 50 mis­sile launch sites, he said. Phys­i­cal­ly inspect­ing all of the sites took sev­er­al hours to com­plete, he added.

“There is no indi­ca­tion of inten­tion­al or mali­cious caus­es in the com­mu­ni­ca­tion dis­rup­tion,” Thomas said.

Mul­ti­ple redun­dant, or back-up, sys­tems were oper­a­tional to pro­tect the safe­ty, secu­ri­ty and com­mand and con­trol of the nation’s ICBM nuclear deter­rent force, accord­ing to the Air Force state­ment. Offi­cials said the inci­dent did not pose “a sig­nif­i­cant breach in nuclear secu­ri­ty,” and that nei­ther a pow­er breach nor a pow­er out­age had occurred.

Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma was briefed on the inci­dent. In the event of an actu­al threat, the air­borne launch con­trol cen­ter would assume the launch of the mis­sile crews, as ordered by the pres­i­dent, offi­cials said.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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