Largest nuclear bomb dismantled to date in the US arsenal, the B53

According to Wikipedia, this warhead (9.1 megatons) was apparently never tested, although an experimental TX-46 predecessor design was detonated 28 June 1958 as Hardtack Oak, which detonated at a yield of 8.9 Megatons.

From The National Nuclear Security Administration

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) today

B53 Nuclear bomb - photo NNSA News

announced that the last B53 nuclear bomb has been dismantled. The announcement was made at a ceremony at NNSA’s Pantex Plant outside Amarillo, Texas. Officials from the Department of Energy, National Nuclear Security Administration and Pantex joined elected officials to commemorate the dismantlement of the final B53 nuclear bomb.

The dismantlement of the 1960s-era weapon system is consistent with President Obama’s goal of reducing the number of nuclear weapons. In his 2009 speech in Prague, the President said “We will reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy, and urge others to do the same.” The dismantlement of the last remaining B53 ensures that the system will never again be part of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile.

The elimination of the B53 by Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) is consistent with the goal President Obama announced in his April 2009 Prague speech to reduce the number of nuclear weapons. The President said, “We will reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy, and urge others to do the same.” The dismantlement of the last remaining B53 ensures that the system will never again be part of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile.

As a key part of its national security mission, NNSA is actively responsible for safely dismantling weapons that are no longer needed, and disposing of the excess material and components.

Fact Sheet

b53 bw

B53 highlights:

  • The B53 bomb is a 1960s-era system and was introduced into the stockpile in 1962.
  • NNSA’s Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories designed the B53 bomb.
  • The B53 served a key role in the U.S. nuclear deterrent until its retirement in 1997.
  • The B53 supported the B-52G strategic bomber program.
  • The B53 was built at Iowa Army Ammunition Plant in Burlington, Iowa.
  • The Pantex Plant, Amarillo, Texas, dismantled the B53 bomb.
  • Y-12 will dismantle the remaining nuclear portion of the B53 bomb.
  • The B53 is one of the longest-lived and highest-yield nuclear weapons ever fielded by the United States.
  • The B53 is about the size of a minivan and weighs about 10,000 pounds.
  • Dismantlement process utilized the rigid Seamless Safety for the 21st Century (SS-21) process in dismantling the B53.
  • NNSA’s SS-21 process fully integrates the weapon system with the facility, tooling, operating procedures, and personnel involved in the dismantlement program to form a safe, efficient, and effective operating environment.
  • The B53 dismantlement program was safely completed 12 months ahead of schedule.
  • The DoD played a role in staging the weapon prior to dismantlement.
  • The B53 dismantlement program involved more than 130 engineers, scientists, and technicians from Pantex, Y-12, Los Alamos National Laboratory (physics designers and weapon response), Sandia National Laboratories (weapon system), and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (weapon response subject matter expert).

The dismantlement process includes: retiring a weapon from active or inactive service; returning and staging it at NNSA’s Pantex Plant; taking it apart by physically separating the high explosives from the special nuclear material; and processing the material and components, which includes evaluation, reuse, demilitarization, sanitization, recycling, and ultimate disposal.

File:B53 at Pantex.jpg

A B53 nuclear weapon at the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas is prepared for dismantiling - image Wikipedia

In other news, a spokesman for the Union of Concerned Scientists, Kenji Watts, was said to be less concerned than before by the reduction in whimpering observed.

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87 Responses to Largest nuclear bomb dismantled to date in the US arsenal, the B53

  1. Max Hugoson says:

    What was the “yield” of this weapon? Too bad. I think it’s a good idea to have something like this “availible” …there might be some other reason than MILITARY that it could have an application. Who knows? (See: War of the Worlds, the 1950’s movie.)

  2. Max Hugoson says:

    Whoops, missed the first part. Almost 10 Megatons.

    What a firecracker!

  3. JinOH says:

    Whoa – that’s a big bomb…

  4. Austin says:

    This is a puff piece for Obama.

    The B53 was taken out of inventory in the 90s and funds for dismantling were budgeted and appropriated under Bush Jr.

    The primary use of the B53 was for attacking underground bunkers. We have far better nukes for that now.

  5. crustacean says:

    Like saying goodbye to an old friend…
    But what’s with “dismantlement?” Is this related somehow to the crumblement of our infrastructure? Does the NNSA speak English?

  6. Cathy says:

    Well, if Kenji isn’t concerned . . . . . ;)

  7. SOYLENT GREEN says:

    Castle Bravo was bigger. It was a runaway, several were.

  8. More Soylent Green! says:

    The yield of the B53 is a reported 9 megatons, or the equivalent of 9 million tons of TNT. These large-yield warheads were once considered the only way to destroy a hardened target, but improvements in smart weapons and other bunker-busting technology makes them militarily obsolete and unnecessary.

    Further, the B-52G entered service with the USAF in 1959. Some B-52H models are still flying, and they entered service in 1961. (These bombers are older than the crews who fly or service them. I worked on them in the 1980’s.) I don’t know if the new B-1 or B-2 bombers can carry the B53.

  9. George E. Smith says:

    Well it looks big in that picture; but the 10,000 pounds weight is not all that big.

    The WW-II Lancaster bombers of the RAF carried ten ton (22,000 pound) bombs that they dropped from high altitude. They were used on the German concrete submarine pens and other discrete targets. Read the book; “The Dambusters” about 617 squadron. But no, that ten ton bomb was not the dam bustng bomb.

  10. Scott Covert says:

    I would like a couple empty casings for my front yard please. Pretty please?

  11. Ivor Ward says:

    Does this mean that we can ask GREENPEACE to disband now. After all, they were only set up to promote nuclear disarmament. I’d say they’ve won so can they sod off.
    “Greenpeace evolved from the peace movement and anti-nuclear protests in Vancouver, British Columbia in the early 1970s. On September 15, 1971, the newly-founded Don’t Make a Wave Committee sent a chartered ship, Phyllis Cormack, renamed Greenpeace for the protest, from Vancouver to oppose United States testing of nuclear devices in Amchitka, Alaska. The Don’t Make a Wave Committee subsequently adopted the name Greenpeace.” (Wikipaedia)[

  12. Pat Frank says:

    Shouldn’t that be spokesChin, Kenji Watts, of the UCS? :-)

  13. John Whitman says:

    The USA’s B53 bomb was a wimpy firecracker compared to the 50 megaton USSR’s Tsar Bomba (AN602 hydrogen bomb). It was 50 megaton when tested, compared to the B53’s ~10 megaton.

    John

  14. Pull My Finger says:

    9 MT is small compared to some of the beasts the USSR built. The US aimed for accuracy with the nukes, the USSR… blunt force. They tested a 50MT bomb which had a total destruction radius of 22 miles. The SS-18 ICBM could carry up to a 20MT warhead, or 10 independent 50+kt warheads. US missiles were much smaller and much more accurate. The Soviet theory was horseshoes, hand grenades, and 20MT warheads. Good thing even the Soviets recognized, eventually, that no one wins when if you EVER fire off one of those mothers in anger. Thank god delivery technology is way more difficult to master than the actual bomb. Makes me much less worried about N.Korea and China, much less Pakistan. India… I want them on our side.

    Political Science classes must be boring post-cold war. MAD, Superpower Summits and Cloak and Daggar skullduggery have been replaced by what? Copyright issues, outsourcing and killing scraggly sheep buggerers hiding out in caves?

  15. John Whitman says:

    Anthony,

    Your dog shouldn’t be messing with dismantling nuclear devices. : )

    John

  16. Adam Gallon says:

    A mere firecracker compared to The Tsar Bomb!

  17. John Whitman says:

    Pull My Finger says:
    October 25, 2011 at 11:51 am

    Adam Gallon says:
    October 25, 2011 at 11:55 am

    ————

    Pull-My-Finger & Adam Gallon,

    HA HA . . . . we had virtually simultaneous thoughts and posts!!!

    Love it.

    John

  18. Eric Gisin says:

    Check the article reference http://www.johnstonsarchive.net/nuclear/multimeg.html, there were 5 larger bombs in the US arsenal.

  19. kwik says:

    Lets hope Dr. Strangelove isnt around…..

  20. RHS says:

    I’m sure a newer B52 could carry one of these since the B52 in general is the only plane which can carry the Daisy Cutter/BLU82. Also a huge bomb. Not used a whole heck of a lot any more but there is not better way to clear a large area instantly and still have it humanly habitual.

  21. Andy says:

    Great, now only our enemies will have nukes. I feel safer already.

  22. Jeff in Calgary says:

    I read an article that stated that this was the end of the “Big Megaton Bombs”. It may be the end of the American Big Megaton Bombs, but you can be sure that it is not the true end. There are plenty in other countries. I think we (Canada) needs to end our “No Nukes” policy and start to build some large ones to protect ourselves. Our resources may become coveted as the rest of the world is financially melting down. We may need to defend ourselves in the near future

  23. More Soylent Green! says:

    When you outlaw nuclear weapons, only outlaws will have nukes.

  24. 1DandyTroll says:

    OMG it really is worse than the eco-drones have thought, now they don’t have the super bomb to fix the catastrophic global warming, so what will they do now? :°

  25. John Whitman says:

    Is Iran likely to have more than the USA in the near future?

    China’s nuclear weapons program will protect the USA from Iran, right? Because China owns a lot of the USA so they would actually be protecting themselves by protecting the USA . . . . . irony is great. : )

    Is the USA nuclear stockpile the largest?

    I believe the Israelis have some interest in this matter.

    John

  26. DirkH says:

    Ivor Ward says:
    October 25, 2011 at 11:23 am
    “Does this mean that we can ask GREENPEACE to disband now. After all, they were only set up to promote nuclear disarmament. I’d say they’ve won so can they sod off.”

    They have expanded their mission statement; they now want to stop all nuclear energy and all genetic manipulation when it leads to the spreading of new organisms. This might of course change any time , but that’s how I interpret their current FAQ.

    http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/about/faq/

    Would you stop such a successfull extortion machine?

  27. DirkH says:

    Pull My Finger says:
    October 25, 2011 at 11:51 am
    “Political Science classes must be boring post-cold war. MAD, Superpower Summits and Cloak and Daggar skullduggery have been replaced by what? Copyright issues, outsourcing and killing scraggly sheep buggerers hiding out in caves?”

    Creating the New World Order by co-opting science.

  28. juanslayton says:

    RHS: …still have it humanly habitual.
    Had to think about this a bit. I guess you mean habitable?
    : > )

  29. timg56 says:

    The addendum to the phrase “Almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.” – i.e. “… and atom bombs.” had this puppy in mind.

    Reminds me of a tee-shirt from my sub days – “16 empty tubes and a mushroom cloud. Now it’s Miller time.”

  30. Gil Dewart says:

    OK now, how about the link between the military and the validity (?) of weather/climate data?
    In WWII service personnel risked their lives to take out enemy met stations.

  31. RHS says:

    juanslayton – I did mean habitable but in hindsight…

  32. Jim G says:

    Supposedly the largest bomb tested by the US was planned to yield 5 megatons but actually yielded 15 while the Soviets lit off a 50 megaton bomb in 1961, capable of 100 megatons if so fueled. I have heard that the US had one, or planned one, never tested that if detonated could change the axial tilt of the planet. Such power, as noted by one comment above, could be useful, particularly in the event of a need to deter a large impact, had we the time and delivery capability. I, for one, never throw much away that might be useful in the future.

  33. More Soylent Green! says:

    You can have my B53 when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers.

  34. SOYLENT GREEN says:

    Since two others mentioned the Tsar Bomba, so will I.
    It was 50mt yes, but the fun part? it was scaled down from a 100mt design–which of course was undeliverable by any means at the time..

  35. wws says:

    what aircraft model is that in the opening of the clip? I don’t recognize it offhand.

  36. Sal Minella says:

    If the yield is truly 9.1MT, it is by far not the largest yield nuclear weapon in the US arsenal. It is, in fact, the physically largest nuke ever built but, far from the largest yield. Several 100+ MT weapons exist in the US arsenal however, they are fission/fusion devices that would fit in the back of a pickup truck.

  37. More Soylent Green! says:

    You can dismantle my B53 nuclear bomb when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers.

  38. LearDog says:

    I am glad that Mr Obama is protecting the essence of my bodily fluid….. ;-D

  39. Pull My Finger says:

    These giant bombs are as much an anachranism as B-17s and Krupp Howitzers. In the 50s and 60s you couldn’t target missile sites or submarine bases with much accuracy at all so you made up for accuracy with… coverage. The Soviets went even further, they would kill the target site and every human being within 10 miles of the site instantly, 50%+ casualty rate triple that radius, and then obliterate every urban area in the USA just for good measure. The Soviets had close to 20,000 strategic wareheads at one time that could reach the US.

    A 5kt nuke tipped cruise missile is much more effective and has little colatteral damage, if you’d even need the nuke tip. So, Canada doesn’t need 5MT bombs these days, rest well. :) I’m pretty sure everyone agrees that millions of deaths due to nuclear holocause is a pretty un PC these days. And pretty pointless considering we don’t need stop a million of Ruskies screaming across West Germany these days. Chinese don’t have the logistical framework to be a threat to anyone they don’t share a land border with.

  40. Laurie Bowen (the troll?) says:

    More Soylent Green! says:
    October 25, 2011 at 12:30 pm
    When you outlaw nuclear weapons, only outlaws will have nukes.

    I guess only the criminals have tanks??? /sarc

    What this country lacks, many times, is circumspection . . . . . in my opinion.

  41. DT says:

    News article from 2012 – As the world mournfully waits for the impact of the recently discovered comet Wolf-Biederman, Greenpeace activists are forced to ponder the bitter irony of their semi-successful campaign to rid the world of nuclear weapons. Had America not dismantled her last remaining megaton class B53 bombs just one year ago they could have been used to deflect the comet, which will now destroy the environment and most life on the planet.

  42. percy says:

    how many of these bombs – retired in 1997 – still exist? Is this really the last one? 10 tons mass is equivalent to the Grand Slam bomb used a few times in WW2 but the explosive impact of this is horrific.

  43. More Soylent Green! says:

    Laurie Bowen (the troll?) says:
    October 25, 2011 at 1:58 pm
    More Soylent Green! says:
    October 25, 2011 at 12:30 pm
    When you outlaw nuclear weapons, only outlaws will have nukes.

    I guess only the criminals have tanks??? /sarc

    What this country lacks, many times, is circumspection . . . . . in my opinion.

    Lauren, I was having fun paraphrasing some bumper stickers I often see on pickup trucks here in fly-over country.

    But should have posted When you outlaw nuclear weapons, only outlaw nations and terrorists will have nuclear weapons.

    The genie is out of the bottle. It’s been almost 70 years since the first atomic bombs were created. What once could only be created by the world’s only superpower can now be built by any dictatorship that possess the will to do so. We can’t erase that knowledge from human memory.

  44. Retired Engineer says:

    re: Sal Minella
    I was under the impression that the B-58 Hustler carried a 20 MT nuke, ditto the Titan ICBM. Perhaps the B53 was not hydrogen? That would take a heck of a lot of Plutonium.

  45. Mike Borgelt says:

    The aircraft in the clip at the beginning is a Martin B57. Likely a B model as the A had the goldfish bowl canopy same as the English Electric Canberra of which it was an Americanised version.

  46. Laurie Bowen (the troll?) says:

    Deep Impact . – Fun Facts and Information
    http://www.funtrivia.com/en/Movies/Deep-Impact-6923.htmlSimilar
    How big does the President say is the size of the original comet, before it was … After the inital comet, Wolf-Biederman, is split in two, what is the name for the …

  47. David A. Evans says:

    The plane in the opening sequence was an English Electric Canberra, manufactured under licence by Martin in the U.S.A.

  48. David A. Evans says:

    Oops Mike Borgelt beat me to it.

  49. Laurie Bowen (the troll?) says:
  50. Joe Matais says:

    “Chinese don’t have the logistical framework to be a threat to anyone they don’t share a land border with.”……YET

  51. 1DandyTroll says:

    DirkH says:
    October 25, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    “They have expanded their mission statement; they now want to stop all nuclear energy and all genetic manipulation when it leads to the spreading of new organisms. This might of course change any time , but that’s how I interpret their current FAQ.

    http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/about/faq/

    Would you stop such a successfull extortion machine?”

    Well since these eco-loons have tendency to reference fantasy character for support you have to figure they have to be unilaterally crazy to deny the future children the possible outcome of spawning new hero organisms with the help of nuclear power. I mean OMFG how can they do that to kids’s imagination?

    :-()

  52. Chris Smith says:

    It’s a sad day for democracy, freedom, justice and liberty. [/sarc]

  53. Legatus says:

    Older and cruder technology atomic bombs are larger, some of them, even the first ones made, were very large.
    The first two dropped were kinda like this one, very large, one even called “fatman” it was so large.
    High tech modern bombs are much smaller.
    Very big, crude bombs are much harder to deliver.
    We know that any bombs North Korea has must be crude.
    One reason we know this is that the first one they detonated was only 1 kiloton, only 10% of the power of the first atomic bomb ever detonated.
    In other words, it was a dud.
    Conclusion, North Korea has no deliverable nuclear bombs.
    Any bombs they may have (if they even have any) will be too large for any missile, and may even be too large for any aircraft they have.
    An aircraft that large is easily spotted and shot down (I don’t think they even have any aircraft that large).

    The hype about North Koreas nuclear bombs, and how that is a threat to us, and how therefore we should play nice with them because they are a nuclear power, is false.

  54. Ed Fix says:

    RHS says:
    October 25, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    I’m sure a newer B52 could carry one of these…

    Actually, the B-52 (all models) could carry two of them. I flew B-52s, but I’ve never actually seen a live Mark 53–just the one in the Air Force Museum.

    About those “newer B-52s”: there hasn’t been a new or nearly new B-52 since the 60s. I thought they were old when I started flying them in the ’80s–and I was right.

    About whether the B-1 or B-2 could carry these, my guess is they could not. Of course, if I had any actual knowledge, I wouldn’t be posting about it.

  55. Legatus says:

    Umm, the Davy Crocket bomb was not, in fact, the smallest atomic bomb we had, we hade one that fit inside a LAW, a single man man portable rocket launcher.
    It could blow up maybe 2 city blocks or so.
    The Law has a range shorter than that (200 meters).
    Needless to say, they recently retired these things, since for obvious reasons no one wanted to use one…

    Too bad, I like the idea of the nuclear hand grenade

  56. Gary Hladik says:

    Wasn’t it actually used once?

  57. Some Guy says:

    As a fan of US nuclear power, it’s kind of sad to see this beast retired. But the reality of nuclear weapons is that radius of destruction increases at an exponent less than 1 in relation to yield (I think it’s 2/3), so you can get more bang with several smaller weapons over one bigger one.The remaining bombs of this model were all designed as bunker busters, that would detonate on the surface and destroy underground installations, while later bunker buster nukes are designed to penetrate the surface before detonating, to deliver more power against the target.

  58. Werner Brozek says:

    “More Soylent Green! says:
    October 25, 2011 at 11:02 am

    The yield of the B53 is a reported 9 megatons, or the equivalent of 9 million tons of TNT.”

    Let us for the moment assume that Dr. Trenberth’s missing heat could be concentrated into one of these bombs. If the bomb went off in the middle of the Pacific, it would yield about 4 x 10^13 kJ of heat. This in turn would heat a km^3 of ocean water about 10 degrees C. So in the middle of the ocean at a depth of several km below the surface near the equator, the temperature would go from 4 C to 14 C. Since the surface temperature of the ocean at the equator is about 28 C, the heat in this km^3 of water could never “break through” to the air. (Thank you to the person who raised this point in a different post!) I do not agree that his heat is in the middle of the ocean, but even if it were, I do not see how it could remotely affect us.

  59. Mike Wryley says:

    The design of that device predates transistors, it would be interesting to see how the control and timing circuits were built, how they were powered, and the measures taken to guarantee that all the components remained stable for 50 years. Maybe there was a team of old timers who fluffed these babies every once and awhile.

  60. ElmerF says:

    The bomber at the start is a Martin B-57 (I don’t think we bought any of the original British A/C). But it must have been inserted for effect as it was classified as a medium bomber (If they still used light, medium and heavy terms in that era) back in those days and I know it could not carry one of these B-53s, if not due to weight, most certainly due to size vs. the bomb bay in the B-57.

  61. MADSALT says:

    For some pics and a detailed description of the Russian 50 Megaton bomb:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsar_bomba

    Early on the Russians had supposedly alloted two 25 megaton warheads per US missile silo to insure that at least one would destroy the intended target. Imagine, if you will, at least one 25 Megaton dirt digging H-bomb going off per silo with the silos scattered throughout many (mostly) western states. Afterwards, not much of any area west of the Mississippi would be very habitable but (hopefully) a significant portion of the silos would be operative enough for a counterstrike.
    http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/67xx/doc6714/78-CBO-012.pdf

    One of the most logistically interesting H-bombs was the Mark 16 which used cryogenic Deuterium, weighed around 40,000 lbs and was to be carried by the B-36 but was rapidly replaced by the Mark 17, 25 megaton unit. These early weapons initially lacked safe arming with the potential for accidental detonation and parachutes which insured a suicide mission:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_16_nuclear_bomb
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_17_nuclear_bomb

  62. George E. Smith; says:

    The B 57 is a version of the English Electric Canberra bomber. Two Canberras flew in the England to New Zealand air race, and came in first and second. A Vickers Valian talso flew in the race. The Valiant was one of the trio of British Vee bombers, the other two being the scimitar winged Handley Page Victor; which eventually was relegated to aerial tanker service. The best known of the three was the incredible Avro Vulcan Delta winged bomber that featured in a James Bond movie.
    The British high altitude V bomber contribution to NATO, was eventually scrapped when Gary powers was shot down over the Soviet Union, in his U-2 spy plane, proving that high altitude bombers were no longer invulnerable..

    The Canberra is not a big plane, so no way could it carry one of those B53 bombs.

  63. Russ Steele says:

    I was on a B-52 Crew that tested the low level delivery tactic for this bomb using drag chutes. We dropped an unarmed version with in 15 yards of the target at Eglin AFB after flying a simulated nuclear combat mission. We went out to the target range and it was standing on it’s nose with the parachutes draped over it. E-77 proved that it could be delivered accurately from a B-52 flying at low altitude under the soviet radar. Never thought I would see one again, but the picture brought back memories.

  64. George E. Smith; says:

    I should have added that the England to NZ air race was in 1960. Some very interesting aircraft were entered, but never flew in the race. There was a P-82 twin mustang entered but did not fly, and also a De Havilland Hornet, the fastest ever prop fighter (son of Mosquito), but it didn’t fly either. None of those exist today, but I think there are a couple of twin Mustangs still surviving.

  65. David A. Evans says:

    George E. Smith.

    After the Powers incident, the Vulcan did still contribute to the British nuclear deterrent. The Valiant was retired because design flaws meant it could not fly the new low/high/low profile. The Victor was relegated because, although it could fly the profile, it’s flight envelope was inferior to the Vulcan.

    DaveE.

  66. old44 says:

    SOYLENT GREEN says:
    October 25, 2011 at 1:32 pm
    The Russian Tsar 100mt Bomba was designed to be exploded in high orbit and set fire to 100,000 square miles.

  67. kuhnkat says:

    10 Megatons? A firecracker. We need GIGATONS and more to take out or shift the orbit of incoming asteroids or other space junk, Too small of a blast and you have multiple large chunks impacting!!! The capability to deliver it at over 1au would be good too to give us a second chance if the first shot isn’t successful!!

  68. Jim G says:

    But it would only take one high altitude nuke detonation in the midwest to send most of the US back in to the stone ages. The EMP would take out electronics for thousands of square miles.

    I remember Bush Sr. announcing the retirement of the poseidon subs.
    My reaction was “So what, the Tridents are online now.”

    According to wikipedia:
    The Trident II-D5 can carry up to 4-475kt MIRVs or 8-100kt MIRVs.
    Each boat can carry up to 24 missles.
    More smaller warheads spaced out will yield greater destruction than a single big “bomba”.
    (Each boat could carry up to 45Mt.)

    There are 14 active boats carrying them.
    Do the math.
    Not pretty.

    Would not having them while those who hate us did have them make us safer?
    However, there were a number of men in power on both sides of the pond that wanted to unleash hell and get it over with.

    However, we can neither confirm or deny the presence or absence of nuclear weapons on board any US ship or station.

  69. Horseman says:

    Am I the only person here who thinks it might actually be good news?! After all I think we still have enough nukes to destroy civilization 10.9 times over (instead of 11.0). Cheers!

  70. Robert says:

    Jim G says:
    October 25, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    Supposedly the largest bomb tested by the US was planned to yield 5 megatons but actually yielded 15 while the Soviets lit off a 50 megaton bomb in 1961, capable of 100 megatons if so fueled. I have heard that the US had one, or planned one, never tested that if detonated could change the axial tilt of the planet. Such power, as noted by one comment above, could be useful, particularly in the event of a need to deter a large impact, had we the time and delivery capability. I, for one, never throw much away that might be useful in the future.

    A bomb that could tilt the earth Axis? The Tōhoku earthquake shifted the Earth axis somewhere between 10 and 25 cm. The earthquake released about 9,320 gigatons, 600 million times the Hiroshima bomb.

    So a bomb in the US-arsenal that could shift the earth axis, I don’t think so.

  71. Horseman says: October 26, 2011 at 12:10 am

    Am I the only person here who thinks it might actually be good news?! After all I think we still have enough nukes to destroy civilization 10.9 times over (instead of 11.0). Cheers!

    You know how much I love this website. And I love the humour here too. Yet I too am disappointed by the overall tone on this thread. It reminds me too much of 10-10. I think we can do better, if we think again.

    Sure, we need defenc/se. And sure, those weapons can be dismantled mainly because we now have weapons that act more neatly and less overall destructively while achieving similar military tactical ends.

    But if we depend on defenc/se at the totally materialistic level, we run the risk of annihilation of this beautiful planet.

    We have to look higher. Not naively, but with all our inner powers, which importantly include the essence and spirit of Scientific Method. Used to be called prayer, but today we need more science-friendly, psychologically-aware approaches not limited by religious dogmas. If people here would stop dissing the UFO phenomenon the same way the warmistas diss us, we could gradually tease out the evidence – woven into the whole vast fabric of information, disinformation, dis-disinformation, fear, ignorance, hype, etc – evidence of UFOs’ overall beneficial intent, and, most importantly, deep concern at our development of nuclear weapons.

    Sifting the evidence for the UFO realm of reality is a huge process, rather bigger than what I had to work through in countering each of of the myriad, peer-review-referenced SkS “debunks” of climate skeptics, as I turned from warmist to skeptic myself. That took me several weeks’ concentrated study, just to turn sides.

    To start this process of reopening the enquiry into the UFO realm of dissed reality (and there are other such realms), all one needs is the intent to stay courteous and to examine the evidence, the whole evidence, and nothing but the evidence – oh, and to write it all up in clear, simple, laymans English, and not hijack threads. Ah, maybe I need to start a “Beyond WUWT” blog… but oh dear, the time needed… yet these issues are important.

  72. Mike McMillan says:

    Ah, the good old days. Sigh.
    Actually, I’ve never seen a B53, though the propane tank at the Galva surface station was about that size. I neither confirm nor deny being familiar only with the B28, which is a bunch smaller, but you could carry more of them. ‘Tis a strange feeling to pat one of those puppies on the nose.

    Any target buried deeply enough to need a B53 would be too well defended to reach with a big bomber.

    I understand Pantex had to do a lot of research before dismantling the bomb because everyone who knew how the thing was put together was long departed.

    We’re going to need to resume some nuclear testing before long, as the shelf life of the current warheads is running out, and there are still a few places around the world where they could be usefully applied.

  73. Jay says:

    Russ, After reading Failsafe many years ago, I never quite understood the low attack profile as a strategy for US forces (which did not intentionally plan suicide missions). Would the chutes give you enough time to get away?

  74. Crispin in Waterloo says:

    @Legatus
    “The hype about North Koreas nuclear bombs, and how that is a threat to us, and how therefore we should play nice with them because they are a nuclear power, is false.”

    ++++++++

    Agreed. Their abilities are far more about PR than actual ability. A little birdie told me they are very backward in the nuke department and may simply be setting off things they are given by a neighbour to make them look powerful. It seems to be smoke and mirrors. They know more about fishin’ than fission.

  75. I thought the BLU82 was delivered by pushing it out the back of a C-130.

  76. Laurie Bowen (the troll?) says:

    Lucy Skywalker says:
    October 26, 2011 at 1:47 am ” evidence of UFOs’ overall beneficial intent, and, most importantly, deep concern at our development of nuclear weapons.”

    RE: The Fermi paradox
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fermi_Paradox

  77. More Soylent Green! says:

    Horseman says:
    October 26, 2011 at 12:10 am
    Am I the only person here who thinks it might actually be good news?! After all I think we still have enough nukes to destroy civilization 10.9 times over (instead of 11.0). Cheers!

    As this particular warhead/bomb seems to have outlived it’s military purpose, I’m not complaining. The idea of a world without nukes is childishly naive. We need to maintain a credible deterrent and redundancy is part of what make the deterrent credible.

  78. Laurie Bowen (the troll?) says: October 26, 2011 at 8:22 am

    Lucy Skywalker says: ” evidence of UFOs’ overall beneficial intent, and, most importantly, deep concern at our development of nuclear weapons.”

    RE: The Fermi paradox
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fermi_Paradox

    Thanks Laurie you’ve taught me another phrase. I shall add it to my library.

    But of course, you don’t trust Wikipedia to give a fair portrayal of the evidence do you?? Hope not, anyway.

  79. Russ Steele says:

    Jay,

    My unit did not carry that weapon on alert, we were just the test crew. The timers were suppose to give us time to get over the horizon. But, who knows, just over the hill may have been another target and some other units bomb. I did not have much confidence we would get home again if there really was a nuclear war. I kissed all my kids good by every time I went on alert, knowing it might be my last kiss.

  80. Laurie Bowen (the troll?) says:

    Lucy Skywalker says:
    October 26, 2011 at 10:18 am
    “But of course, you don’t trust Wikipedia to give a fair portrayal of the evidence do you?? Hope not, anyway.”

    No, But it is like starting with an Encyclopedia . . . . as a start to circumspection . . . .

  81. George E. Smith; says:

    “”””” David A. Evans says:

    October 25, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    George E. Smith.

    After the Powers incident, the Vulcan did still contribute to the British nuclear deterrent. The Valiant was retired because design flaws meant it could not fly the new low/high/low profile. The Victor was relegated because, although it could fly the profile, it’s flight envelope was inferior to the Vulcan “””””
    Dave.,

    I believe that I said “was eventually scrapped” as in “eventually”.

    I knew that the Valiant dropped out because of design issues. But you have to consider when these three aircraft were designed. The wing profile of the Victor, gave it some ground effect self landing capability. All three were remarkable aircraft for the era when they were designed, which was before the British Aircraft Industry sort of fell out of the sky. The Hawker Hunter, and the DeHavilland DH-110 were designed around the same era; and both eventually had relatively good careers, in a somewhat quiet world.

    The DH-110 was the one that crashed at Farnborough, when it was first shown to the public. I actually built a balsa stick and paper model of a DH-110.

    Too bad that the British aircraft Industry took it in the shorts as a result of the Comet fatigue problems; leaving Boeing and Lockheed to benefit from the pieces, and the research.

  82. Laurie Bowen (the troll?) says: October 26, 2011 at 10:31 am

    Lucy Skywalker says: “But of course, you don’t trust Wikipedia to give a fair portrayal of the evidence do you?? Hope not, anyway.”

    No, But it is like starting with an Encyclopedia . . . . as a start to circumspection . . . .

    Have to agree there. Wikipedia is more often than not a fabulous start… but in certain areas even that start has to be viewed with great suspicion…

  83. Laurie Bowen (not the only troll) says:

    Lucy Skywalker says:
    October 26, 2011 at 1:36 pm “Have to agree there. Wikipedia is more often than not a fabulous start… but in certain areas even that start has to be viewed with great suspicion…”

    Fine. . . but discussing the “truth” about aliens is like discussing the “truth” about religions . . . there is very little out there that is not based on faith or blind belief . . . . I would view anything and anyone with “with great suspicion” that uses an pespective like that . . . I come from an area where you can “live or die” by what beliefs you have or “pretend” to have. So I’ll just leave it at that . . . . anything more is a waste of time, effort, and becomes a phishing expidition . . .

  84. Seattle steve says:

    Does this seem all too sureeal? Here is a picture of some good ol’e boys in Texas pulling a large nuke off the back of a lowboy trailer with a fork lift. Just another day at work I suppose

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