WASHINGTON (AFP) – A B-52 bomber flew the length of the United States last week mistakenly loaded with as many as six nuclear armed cruise missiles last week, a US military official confirmed Wednesday.
The mix-up was reported to President George W. Bush after the nuclear warheads were discovered when the aircraft landed at Barksdale Air Force Base Louisiana, the official said.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said as many as six cruise missiles loaded on to the plane were found to have nuclear warheads on them by mistake.
The B-52 was flying from Minot Air Base in North Dakota.
The incident was first reported by Military Times newspapers, which said the air launched cruise missiles can carry nuclear warheads of five to 150 kilotons.
The official said the discovery was reported to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Peter Pace, “and higher.” The official said the notification goes as high as the president.
“There are procedures in place and they kicked in and worked,” the official said.