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Inside the US Nuclear Silos Where Floppy Disk Are Still High-Tech
Gizmodo ^ | April 28, 2014 | Jamie Condliffe

Posted on 04/28/2014 7:48:06 AM PDT by lbryce

It's not very often you get to see inside a US Air Force nuclear silo—but CBS recently got to take a peek for us. In this video, Lesley Stahl finds that they're not quite as high-tech as you might like to think.

This segment, which you can watch below, appeared on 60 Minutes, and it provides a rare glimpse into the inner working of America's nuclear bunkers. Cozying up with the ageing rockets, two things are striking. First, the staff don't seem wildly experienced. Second, the technology down there still relies on 5.25-inch 8-inch floppy disks from the 70s. Thank goodness the nation is so well protected

(Excerpt) Read more at gizmodo.com ...


TOPICS: Extended News; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: nucleardefense; us
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Right now, I see this article making the rounds of the Duma, Russian Parliament, Putin smiling as he reads it, the entire Russian military complex just having a great old time reading this. All of this just weeks after Russia let us know which country could devastate the US without the capacity for MAD. Well, As Laurel told Hardy or the other way around, that we ought to say to Obama, That's another fine mess you've gotten us into!
1 posted on 04/28/2014 7:48:06 AM PDT by lbryce
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To: lbryce

Are you kidding? If we are using 5.25 floppies at our nuclear facilities, the Russians are still on magnetic tape reels.


2 posted on 04/28/2014 7:50:38 AM PDT by Boogieman
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To: Boogieman

Yeah. You’re absolutely right. I hadn’t thought of that.
I was wondering why this is being leaked now but you’re point is very well taken.


3 posted on 04/28/2014 7:52:56 AM PDT by lbryce (Barack Hussein Obama:The Worst is Yet to Come)
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To: Boogieman

The Doomsday Machine


4 posted on 04/28/2014 7:55:25 AM PDT by ThirdMate
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To: Boogieman

And the Chinese on ferrite core memory.


5 posted on 04/28/2014 7:55:40 AM PDT by C210N (When people fear government there is tyranny; when government fears people there is liberty)
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To: lbryce

I take nothing from SeeBS without thinking of what agenda is behind it.

0’ has been dismantling nukes... unilaterally, firing officers, cutbacks, etc. Something is up here, like sowing the seed for the remainder of collapsing the US nuke deterrence. He needs to get this done within the next 2.5 years...


6 posted on 04/28/2014 7:57:53 AM PDT by C210N (When people fear government there is tyranny; when government fears people there is liberty)
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To: C210N

Ferrite core or an abicus.


7 posted on 04/28/2014 7:58:18 AM PDT by ImJustAnotherOkie (zerogottago)
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To: C210N

The Chinese use abaci.


8 posted on 04/28/2014 7:58:44 AM PDT by onedoug
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To: lbryce

Gee a 25 megaton warhead based on 1950’s techology can still leave a pretty big hole in the ground.


9 posted on 04/28/2014 7:59:58 AM PDT by Fido969 (What's sad is most)
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To: Boogieman

Older technology is often less vulnerable.

The Russians used vacuum tube radios in their MiGs & Sukhois. Impervious to EMP.


10 posted on 04/28/2014 8:00:02 AM PDT by elcid1970
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To: Boogieman

Nah...they’re still using wire recorders...


11 posted on 04/28/2014 8:00:53 AM PDT by Eric in the Ozarks (Rip it out by the roots.)
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To: C210N

I don’t get it. The first nuke to hit the US would be DC. Even if he’s got advanced warning and gets out of dodge his power base will be gone. Something is definitely up, as you say. Maybe this was the side deal he cut with the Russkies when he told them he’d have more time when he gets re-elected.


12 posted on 04/28/2014 8:08:35 AM PDT by gr8eman (There's no "R" in Warshington!)
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To: lbryce
Whoever allowed this is stupid. And I'm sure Obama had to sign off.

I remember just before the Anthrax hit, they did a big show about Ft. Detrick.

13 posted on 04/28/2014 8:09:05 AM PDT by Sacajaweau
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To: lbryce

It begs the question...where the heck does the Air Force still get those 8” floppy disks?


14 posted on 04/28/2014 8:10:21 AM PDT by The Great RJ
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To: lbryce

The technology in the silos is stable and been proven over 50 years. Why change it?


15 posted on 04/28/2014 8:11:33 AM PDT by DManA
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To: lbryce
I think this is GOOD News.
They are so old there is no way in HELL they will be hacked into.
16 posted on 04/28/2014 8:12:57 AM PDT by Falcon4.0
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To: Boogieman
We don't use 5.25" floppies. In the original article, it says "still relies on 5.25-inch 8-inch floppy disks from the 70s." The author was making the point that we don't even use 5.25" floppies.


17 posted on 04/28/2014 8:13:13 AM PDT by Scoutmaster (I'd rather be at Philmont)
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To: lbryce

60s technology got us to the moon. Now we can't even get back to our own space station.

18 posted on 04/28/2014 8:15:24 AM PDT by caligatrux (...some animals are more equal than others.)
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To: lbryce

Thank God they use old technology. with all of the vulnerabilities of modern day software the last thing we need is to hook these silos up to the internet or some other thing that you just know someone is pushing for just by the very existence of this report


19 posted on 04/28/2014 8:16:11 AM PDT by Shamrock498
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To: Boogieman

SeeBS should have left this alone until FUBO is gone! Now he will probably hire his wife’s black female college “friend” from Canada to “develop” a new missile control system patterned after her “innovative and reliable” Healthcare website! If the Russians hear that’s going on, they will probably attack!


20 posted on 04/28/2014 8:16:51 AM PDT by vette6387
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To: Boogieman

I watched the segment and a lot of what CBS tried to imply is BS.

I was a missileer and missile ops officer both underground and airborne as well as nuclear command and control. Until about 35 years ago the memory units that held the guidance data for MMIII were still plaited wire memory going back to MMI and before.

Although the giant floppies are ancient technologically, they and the system they are used in are much more secure. If I remember correctly and it’s been a long time (retired 20+ years ago), the large floppies are part of the communications system and not the launch/launch codes system which are/were electro-mechanical coded systems that are not externally computer controlled. The AF looked at computerized satellite linked systems for launch coding/decoding back 20+ years ago but it was not feasible or secure enough.

They did mention that the result of a cybersecurity audit of these systems it was determined that they were as safe as could be because they are not connected to the internet and do not rely on computerized systems or the internet to store and transmit enable or launch codes or sequences. In this case, hardened, electro-mechanical hardwires and giant floppies for some data storage are better and more secure.

The old movies like Colossis The Forbin Project and Wargames made a point that fully computerized systems were not safe, secure or infallible. Electronic, mechanical, human interface with strict and constant procedural training along with monthly evaluation for crew members makes for the safest and most secure systems.


21 posted on 04/28/2014 8:19:38 AM PDT by RJS1950 (The democrats are the "enemies foreign and domestic" cited in the federal oath)
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To: elcid1970

+1

Radiation-hardened computers are always going to lag behind the most recent civilian tech. They’re secret + they’re made of non-standard materials for milspec + the job they’re required to do just isn’t changing.

I guess there may also be advantages against hacking. Smuggling a virus in on a USB stick gets you nothing if the interface is a triangular floppy disk or something crazy like that.

A nuke base is the classic venue for “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”


22 posted on 04/28/2014 8:20:10 AM PDT by agere_contra (I once saw a movie where only the police and military had guns. It was called 'Schindler's List'.)
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To: caligatrux

What do you mean our space station. It’s about to become Putin’s space station when he bans US Astronauts from Russian space flights!


23 posted on 04/28/2014 8:21:51 AM PDT by Empireoftheatom48 (God help the Republic but will he?)
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To: RJS1950

I can just seem some image-over-brains politician react to this story by insisting that we link all our nuke missile to the intrawebz so we “look” more high tech.

Result: WWIII about 45 minutes later.


24 posted on 04/28/2014 8:22:31 AM PDT by caligatrux (...some animals are more equal than others.)
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To: lbryce
It's not very often you get to see inside a US Air Force nuclear silo

The ignorance of this opening statement is astounding. You would think that rudimentary reporting would get at least some things right.

The 60 minutes hit piece was recorded at a Minuteman Launch Control Center (LCC), a manned capsule miles from the nearest Launch Facility (LF).

The actual missiles are located at ten remote LFs in each flight assigned to an LCC. No one in the business would ever refer to a LF as a silo. That term died in the 60's with the second generation of ICBMs like the Atlas and Titan I.

If the story can't even get that straight how can there be any credibility elsewhere? There is no news in this story only whatever alarmist crap cbs wants to feed a gullible American public.

25 posted on 04/28/2014 8:23:03 AM PDT by pfflier
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To: Fido969

We have no 25 Mton warheads on any ICBM. They retired with the Titan IIs.


26 posted on 04/28/2014 8:24:33 AM PDT by pfflier
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To: lbryce

With a floppy disk system, hard for others to stick a USB stick in to copy data or inject a virus!


27 posted on 04/28/2014 8:31:28 AM PDT by Lockbox
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To: Boogieman

In a world of high speed internet and high bandwidth communications, it is a wise bet to use the slowest mode of data transfer to transmit important data - US Govt does it everyday at multiple agencies. Ever hear of the world’s largest antenna which is used for Submarine com’s - it is miles long and the data transmitted is only a few bits per minute - safe and secure — totally overlooked by those who try to find it in the rest of data streams or radio waves.


28 posted on 04/28/2014 8:34:55 AM PDT by Jumper
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To: caligatrux

I could see that as well. These systems and procedures have been proven secure and that they work since the days of LeMay who demanded strict procedures and rules. The systems installed in today’s LCCs are technologically more advanced than when I was doing that job and are a lot more reliable than the old monitor and control panels we had. The capsule environment is a lot nicer and heuristically better. The boredom that comes in the middle of the night is a given, regardless of the technology and other amenities. We were instilled with the gravity and importance of the job with regard to the threats. We went out daily knowing that the mission was an important one. After 1990, the consensus was that the outside nuclear threats had gone away and it is evident today that they have not. The crewmembers of today need to understand that and maybe gain some appreciation for the importance of their role in our defense.


29 posted on 04/28/2014 8:35:11 AM PDT by RJS1950 (The democrats are the "enemies foreign and domestic" cited in the federal oath)
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To: gr8eman

He will be in Hawaii.


30 posted on 04/28/2014 8:40:52 AM PDT by woodbutcher1963
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To: gr8eman

I don’t get it. The first nuke to hit the US would be DC. Even if he’s got advanced warning and gets out of dodge his power base will be gone. Something is definitely up, as you say. Maybe this was the side deal he cut with the Russkies when he told them he’d have more time when he gets re-elected.


Or we accidentally fire one of ours, which then explodes over the US, causing an EMP. Obama knocks us out, and blames the old technology.


31 posted on 04/28/2014 8:40:57 AM PDT by maine yankee (I got my Governor at 'Marden's')
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To: Boogieman

Same at NASA. The computer technology was invariably a decade and a half behind. Defense and aerospace projects move through the timeline much more slowly than computer technology races ahead.


32 posted on 04/28/2014 8:44:49 AM PDT by Buckeye McFrog
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To: DManA

I’m with you. People shouldn’t underestimate old technology which can be very resilient. There are many USAF aircraft flying around right now with circuits built in the 60s and 70s. What do they propose we do instead, connect via the Internet (through “secure” connections of course—LOL) and use modern software and thumb drives that have all sorts of vulnerabilities and software bugs?


33 posted on 04/28/2014 8:52:27 AM PDT by CitizenUSA (We can't have an American people that violate the law and then just walk away from it!)
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To: pfflier

Roger that. While I was on active duty, I was peripherally involved with a lot of different operations. EVERY TIME the LSM reported on those things, they always got them wrong. Not just on details, but the fundamentals. Don’t know if it was just standard arrogance and ignorance, or if PA types were wanting to make them look like buffoons. Or maybe, back in the day, it could have been active disinformation that was the cause.


34 posted on 04/28/2014 9:30:57 AM PDT by afsnco
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To: lbryce; Boogieman

Good news is a 5.25 inch disk isn’t large enough to hold a typical virus, so it couldn’t be hacked. I hope.


35 posted on 04/28/2014 9:34:52 AM PDT by Hardastarboard (Please excuse the potholes in this tagline. Social programs have to take priority in our funding.)
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To: afsnco

My vote is arrogance. They come in with a pre-determined agenda and reinforce it using their terms and perceptions rather than reality.


36 posted on 04/28/2014 9:34:56 AM PDT by pfflier
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To: lbryce

The two big focuses in our nuclear silos are communication and preventing mishap. All of these things have a lot of redundancy and fail safe, and not much reason to screw with what works. As long as the silos are still capable of getting the launch signal and not launching on accident the system is working perfectly.


37 posted on 04/28/2014 9:38:27 AM PDT by discostu (Seriously, do we no longer do "phrasing"?!)
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To: Sacajaweau

None of this stuff is all that secret. You can go to the Titan Missile Museum outside Tucson and walk through an old silo and go through a simulated launch and learn about a good chunk of the systems for under $10. If you’re willing to drop a couple hundred you can do the “behind the scenes” tour, heck you can even spend the night. Yeah it’s all old stuff, but a lot of the concepts (the communications array, the construction of the silo) haven’t changed much. Deterrence weapons aren’t built around secrets, they’re built around openness.


38 posted on 04/28/2014 9:42:27 AM PDT by discostu (Seriously, do we no longer do "phrasing"?!)
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To: The Great RJ

“It begs the question...where the heck does the Air Force still get those 8” floppy disks?”

Craigslist?


39 posted on 04/28/2014 9:56:15 AM PDT by EQAndyBuzz ("Heck of a reset there, Hillary")
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To: pfflier

“If the story can’t even get that straight how can there be any credibility elsewhere? There is no news in this story only whatever alarmist crap cbs wants to feed a gullible American public. “

Was it possible that the reason “silo” was referred to and not “LF” was for the lay person to understand?


40 posted on 04/28/2014 10:04:17 AM PDT by EQAndyBuzz ("Heck of a reset there, Hillary")
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To: EQAndyBuzz; The Great RJ

A landfill in Alamogordo.


41 posted on 04/28/2014 10:08:39 AM PDT by Cooter
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To: lbryce

The Russians still use vacuum tubes in much of their electronics. Their favorite “control computer” is a PDP-11 knock-off.


42 posted on 04/28/2014 10:20:39 AM PDT by GingisK
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To: GingisK
The Russians still use vacuum tubes in much of their electronics. Their favorite “control computer” is a PDP-11 knock-off.

And the Chinese crank out circuit boards like Ritz crackers.

43 posted on 04/28/2014 10:30:32 AM PDT by Fido969 (What's sad is most)
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To: EQAndyBuzz
To use the term "silo" for the layperson is likely as you pointed out.

By not properly describing the terminology or the geographic layout of a Minuteman flight, the LSM is perpetuating ignorance rather than presenting facts. That, in turn, suggests an agenda rather than a story.

44 posted on 04/28/2014 10:37:09 AM PDT by pfflier
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To: lbryce

Does the button still work?

That’s really all we need right? We need the engine to start.


45 posted on 04/28/2014 11:09:35 AM PDT by Vermont Lt (If you want to keep your dignity, you can keep it. Period........ Just kidding, you can't keep it.)
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To: agere_contra

I have a 1911 pistol.

The basic design hasn’t changed in over 100 years. Yes, some of the metallurgy has improved, but the pieces are still the pieces.


46 posted on 04/28/2014 11:11:45 AM PDT by Vermont Lt (If you want to keep your dignity, you can keep it. Period........ Just kidding, you can't keep it.)
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To: pfflier

I vote complete ignorance.

My wife was a reporter for years. She would always complain about dealing with the local AFB. They would speak in jargon, acronyms, and would assume that you already knew points A-B-C, so they would just start talking about D. If you asked any follow up questions, you would get the “you must be a civilian” response.

So, yes...after a few go arounds like that you begin to not like dealing with the PIO’s at the bases.


47 posted on 04/28/2014 11:15:42 AM PDT by Vermont Lt (If you want to keep your dignity, you can keep it. Period........ Just kidding, you can't keep it.)
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To: pfflier

One thing I noticed and maybe someone else wrote it but I strongly believe there are 15 LCF’s (Launch Control Facility) and not 10. Each LCF had 10 individual sites for a total of 150 MM2/3.

Then again it is almost 35 years since I been at Ellsworth so things may have changed. I recently went through my parents nostalgia items and found an LCS key with tag still on it I must have brought home with me by accident.

I think only the MMS people would get that.


48 posted on 04/28/2014 11:39:52 AM PDT by EQAndyBuzz ("Heck of a reset there, Hillary")
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To: Vermont Lt
WRT the use of jargon. I gave many tours of the training launch facility just like the one in the segment. Reporters and civilians in general almost always asked only the obvious questions like "How many people do you plan to kill today?". Their whole concept of the nuclear weapons world is based on John Travolta stealing a B-2 and selling the nukes to terrorists or Dr Strangelove.

I just re-watched the 60 Minutes piece since may last postings. This time I noticed that the real agenda was the book Command and Control.

The questions and inferences throughout the hit piece was "unauthorized launch or accidental detonation of a nuke" because the systems were designed during the era of Nixon (which in itself is incorrect. But mention Nixon whenever you want a ready made media villain).

The agenda put forth by obambi's administration is the elimination of nukes. This is the opening shot in the regime's efforts to eliminate land based nuclear weapons. Withing weeks I expect dingy harry and the wicked witch of the west (pelosi) to bring this topic to the forefront.

49 posted on 04/28/2014 11:44:36 AM PDT by pfflier
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To: Scoutmaster
I'll bet you a dozen floppy disks you don't even get ***.


50 posted on 04/28/2014 11:46:45 AM PDT by Wyatt's Torch
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