Air Force investigates weapons transfer

Sept. 6, 2007 at 4:37 PM
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 6 (UPI) -- Air Force officials say that an investigation into the alleged improper transfer of weapons from North Dakota to Louisiana will be completed by Sept. 14.

Reports have recently surfaced concerning several nuclear-tipped cruise missiles that were mistakenly attached to the wing of a B-52 bomber flown from a base in North Dakota to a Louisiana military installation Aug. 30, according to the American Forces Press Service.

“The Air Force is currently investigating an error made last Thursday in the transfer of munitions … from Minot Air Force Base to Barksdale Air Force Base aboard a B-52 Stratofortress,” said Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell, in a statement.

Top officials were informed of the incident including President Bush and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates. Additionally, Morrell says that Gates has been receiving daily briefings on the progress of the investigation from senior Air Force leaders.

Officials say the aircrew was unaware nuclear weapons were aboard while crossing over several states during the three-hour flight. This however counters assurances given to Gates from Gen. T. Michael Moseley, the Air Force’s chief of staff, that the alleged nuclear-tipped munitions in question were under proper supervision.

During a news conference Morrell would not confirm whether the air transfer actually contained nuclear weapons, citing a Department of Defense policy.

Morrell also stated that "at no time was the public in danger.” Possible disciplinary actions against Air Force personnel were not identified.

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