Under Pressure, Cargo Unit Passes Nuclear Test

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For the past seven months, one Air Force unit after another has flunked their tests for handling the world’s most dangerous weapons. Today, however, there was finally a bit of good news for the service’s beleaguered atomic corps. The Air Force just announced one of its crews passed its Nuclear Surety Inspection, or NSI. Phew.

The air service’s nuclear forces have been under unrelenting pressure, even since they mistakenly sent nuclear nosecone fuses to Taiwan, and lost track of six warheads. Top officers were disciplined. The service’s civilian and uniformed leaders were sacked. Every NSI became a pressure-cooker – as if handling city-destroying arms wasn’t nerve-wracking enough. A few misfiled papers or a few out-of-place troops means the entire Wing flunks — and the entire Air Force suffers another embarrassment. “Leadership has made it clear: perfection is the standard,” Major Jeffrey Meyers says in a statement.

Now, the 62nd Airlift Wing isn’t responsible for shooting atomic-tipped missiles into the sky, or drop H-bombs on America’s enemies during Armageddon. This is a cargo unit, handling a quarter of the U.S. military’s combat airlift around the world. These days, the 62nd’s main job is bringing troops and equipment in and out of Afghanistan. But the 62nd also has a squadron which is known as the nation’s “Primary Nuclear Airlift Force.” That squadron is trained to use its fleet of massive cargo planes to transport atomic weapons — along with associated gear and personnel — from one base to another.

http://blog.wired.com/defense/2009/01/for-the-past-se.html

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