What is a Cobalt Bomb?

Introduction A cobalt bomb is a type of “salted bomb”: a nuclear weapon designed to produce enhanced amounts of radioactive fallout, intended to contaminate a large area with radioactive material, potentially for the purpose of radiological warfare, mutual assured destruction or as doomsday devices. Brief History The concept of a cobalt bomb was originally described… Read More

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What was the Special Atomic Demolition Munition?

Introduction The Special Atomic Demolition Munition (SADM), also known as the XM129 and XM159 Atomic Demolition Charges, and the B54 bomb was a nuclear man-portable atomic demolition munition (ADM) system fielded by the US military from the 1960s to 1980s but never used in combat. Brief History and Design At the time of the weapon’s… Read More

What was the Norwegian Rocket Incident (1995)?

Introduction The Norwegian rocket incident, also known as the Black Brant scare, occurred on 25 January 1995 when a team of Norwegian and US scientists launched a Black Brant XII four-stage sounding rocket from the Andøya Rocket Range off the northwestern coast of Norway. The rocket carried scientific equipment to study the aurora borealis over… Read More

What was the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (1987-2019)?

Introduction The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty, formally Treaty Between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Elimination of Their Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles; Russian: Договор о ликвидации ракет средней и меньшей дальности / ДРСМД, Dogovor o likvidatsiy raket sredney i menshey dalnosti / DRSMD) was an… Read More

What was the Vela Incident (1979)?

Introduction The Vela incident, also known as the South Atlantic Flash, was an unidentified double flash of light detected by an American Vela Hotel satellite on 22 September 1979 near the Prince Edward Islands in the Indian Ocean. The cause of the flash remains officially unknown, and some information about the event remains classified by… Read More

A Brief Overview of US Military Nuclear Incident Terminology

Introduction The United States Armed Forces uses a number of terms to define the magnitude and extent of nuclear and radiation accidents and incidents in order to reduce the time taken to report the type of incident, thus streamlining the radio communications in the wake of the event. Origin United States Department of Defence directive… Read More

RAF Lakenheath Nuclear Near-Disasters

Introduction RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk, one of several air bases in the United Kingdom (UK) used by the United States Air Force (USAF) to store nuclear weapons during the Cold War, was the site of two nuclear near-disasters, in 1956 and 1961. Two incidents involving aircraft crashes and subsequent fires causing damage to nuclear weapons… Read More