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US Forgets How To Make Trident Missiles

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the i-forget-how-to-spell-feal dept.

The Military 922

Hugh Pickens writes "The US and the UK are trying to refurbish the aging W76 warheads that tip Trident missiles to prolong their life and ensure they are safe and reliable but plans have been put on hold because US scientists have forgotten how to manufacture a mysterious but very hazardous component of the warhead codenamed Fogbank. 'NNSA had lost knowledge of how to manufacture the material because it had kept few records of the process when the material was made in the 1980s, and almost all staff with expertise on production had retired or left the agency,' says the report by a US congressional committee. Fogbank is thought by some weapons experts to be a foam used between the fission and fusion stages of the thermonuclear bomb on the Trident Missile and US officials say that manufacturing Fogbank requires a solvent cleaning agent which is 'extremely flammable' and 'explosive,' and that the process involves dealing with 'toxic materials' hazardous to workers. 'This is like James Bond destroying his instructions as soon as he has read them,' says John Ainslie, the co-ordinator of the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, adding that 'perhaps the plans for making Fogbank were so secret that no copies were kept.' Thomas D'Agostino, administrator or the US National Nuclear Security Administration, told a congressional committee that the administration was spending 'a lot of money' trying to make 'Fogbank' at Y-12, but 'we're not out of the woods yet.'"

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Rumor has it.. (5, Funny)

armer (533337) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121179)

you can download the instruction from the Pirate Bay...

Re:Rumor has it.. (3, Funny)

arndawg (1468629) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121215)

you can download the instruction from the Pirate Bay...

.torrent or it didn't happend

Re:Rumor has it.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27121411)

nukes or GTFO

Good reason to get shut (3, Insightful)

Computershack (1143409) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121225)

Excellent. Lets hope they can't make it and it means they have to get rid of them. Due to the current economic crisis, hopefully they can't afford to come up with a replacement.

In the current global climate, there's no point in having nuclear missiles. Those who could strike us are no longer interested and are now allies and those who are hostile and nuclear capable can't reach us.

Re:Good reason to get shut (2, Insightful)

Spazztastic (814296) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121277)

>

In the current global climate, there's no point in having nuclear missiles. Those who could strike us are no longer interested and are now allies and those who are hostile and nuclear capable can't reach us.

I think someone watched The Watchmen and thought it actually happened.

News flash: There are people who don't like us just as much as they did last summer before my 401k started plummeting. Just because Obama won doesn't mean everybody loves us. What the funding should go towards is creating weapons that do effectively just as much damage without the radiation fallout.

The point of having nuclear weapons is being able to have mutually assured destruction. Even if we have an enemy whose homeland is vague, if one is detonated on US soil expect something bad to happen to anybody we suspect.

Re:Good reason to get shut (-1, Troll)

Kokuyo (549451) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121359)

Even if we have an enemy whose homeland is vague, if one is detonated on US soil expect something bad to happen to anybody we suspect.

And people wonder why I think the best way to secure peace is to get rid of the US...

So what? You make glass parking lots out of Afghanistan, Iran and a few other -ans and think you win? I can tell you what would happen: Millions of people would lose their lives and even more would be contaminated in neighbouring countries or even continent wide.

A lot of those people have family, some even across the globe and, gasp, even in America. I think if you want to survive, as a nation, the best thing to do in response to a nuclear attack by a terrorist organization would be to STFU and fucking NOT retaliate. We are talking about an advanced (in terms of destruction) kind of guerilla warfare. The US has produced enough examples of how 'well' it copes with that.

Re:Good reason to get shut (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27121485)

the best way to secure peace is to get rid of the US

What the fuck is wrong with you?

Anyway, he was talking about countries that can reach us and MAD. The concept is that people DON'T die.

Re:Good reason to get shut (5, Insightful)

xch13fx (1463819) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121513)

And people wonder why I think the best way to secure peace is to get rid of the US...

you mother fucking idiot. There has been war for thousands of years and will continue to be as long as there are haves and have nots. You think erasing the flash in history that is the U.S. is gonna fix the world? those mother fuckers with glass parking lots have been throwing rocks a lot longer then we have been dropping bombs....

Re:Good reason to get shut (4, Insightful)

Spazztastic (814296) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121523)

the best thing to do in response to a nuclear attack by a terrorist organization would be to STFU and fucking NOT retaliate.

I'm playing devils advocate in my post, I forgot to mention it. The problem is that trying to explain that to the POTUS and the joint chiefs would prove to be far more complex after millions of citizens were killed and millions more will die from the fallout.

I would love nothing more than to have world unity and nothing but love all around, but look at after 9/11. Scorched fucking earth in Afghanistan. The American people called for retaliation, and they got it. Look in Israel, a few of their people are killed in suicide bombings and they level city blocks in neighboring countries. It always seems like the political figures take Sean Connery's line from The Untouchables to heart:

He pulls a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. That's the Chicago way, and that's how you get Capone.

Re:Good reason to get shut (5, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121759)

Scorched fucking earth in Afghanistan. The American people called for retaliation, and they got it.

That's generally what happens when you provide logistical support and a base of operations to a terrorist organization that attacks a Great Power. You think Afghanistan would have come out better if Bin Ladin had murdered ~3,000 Chinese or Russians instead of ~3,000 Americans?

It always seems like the political figures take Sean Connery's line from The Untouchables to heart:

For better or worse that's how the world works. The only reason we don't see more of it is because nuclear weapons made total war too horrible to contemplate.

Re:Good reason to get shut (3, Insightful)

Spazztastic (814296) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121807)

That's generally what happens when you provide logistical support and a base of operations to a terrorist organization that attacks a Great Power. You think Afghanistan would have come out better if Bin Ladin had murdered ~3,000 Chinese or Russians instead of ~3,000 Americans?

I think it would be the same as it always has been. We would provide millions of dollars in aide for them, there would be peace rallies and movements to bring them supplies, but ultimately we (The US) would leave it to them to resolve the problem on their own.

Re:Good reason to get shut (5, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121565)

And people wonder why I think the best way to secure peace is to get rid of the US...

You think the US is the only country that would respond in kind? Newsflash: Both the British and the French have reserved the right to respond to terror attacks with nuclear weapons. I suspect the Russians or Chinese would do so as well.

Reality.. (5, Insightful)

evilkasper (1292798) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121633)

Nuclear weapons are not meant to "win". They are meant to ensure everyone loses. That in and of itself is the deterrent to using nuclear weapons.

Re:Reality.. (2, Insightful)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121751)

Nuclear weapons are not meant to "win".

They sure "won" WWII pretty darn quick. They are meant to ensure everyone loses.

Only if everyone has them (and appropriate delivery systems). If not, see WWII. "I win, you lose, end of discussion."

It's probably not what you think. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27121737)

The biggest business of the U.S. government is killing people and preparing to kill people. Hundreds of thousands of people depend for their income and for their family fortunes on the largely secret "defense" operations of the U.S. government.

That's partly how the families of Dick Cheney and George W. Bush made their fortunes.

So, losing plans, if they are actually lost, it not seen as a negative issue. Some contractor will make more money recreating the plans.

Also, and very important, the U.S. government's secret agencies do not need to be honest. The also don't need to be open. So, there is no way for the average person to know what has happened in this case. Probably, it seems reasonable to guess, the U.S. is telling the U.K. that the plans were lost because it doesn't want to share them.

Re:Good reason to get shut (4, Insightful)

VShael (62735) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121741)

That's a logical, clearly reasoned and well thought out response to a hypothetical situation.

Which is why it will never be done.

9/11 was a far, FAR less traumatic event than a nuclear blast. And look at the fear-based trigger response that had, and the innocent people who took the brunt of that American fear response.

Governments are made of people. And people are stupid.

Re:Good reason to get shut (5, Interesting)

Lockblade (1367083) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121745)

If I had to choose whether to chance my family's safety or take out a family half a world away, would I do it? You bet I would. I value me and my family more than I value someone I have never seen nor met that wants to kill me.

Just lay back and enjoy it? (3, Insightful)

Chas (5144) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121785)

I think if you want to survive, as a nation, the best thing to do in response to a nuclear attack by a terrorist organization would be to STFU and fucking NOT retaliate.

This is the equivallent of telling a rape victim to lay back and enjoy it.

No.

On second thought, HELL NO.

You, sir/madam, are an imbecile.

As to the rest of the manure you're shoveling about the world being a better place if the US disappeared? Well, that really doesn't require an answer, now does it?

Re:Good reason to get shut (5, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121457)

What the funding should go towards is creating weapons that do effectively just as much damage without the radiation fallout.

Not to put too fine of a point on it, but... Why?

Is there any particular target you can think of that would be a viable candidate for a nuclear weapon strike? Cities would seem to be the most viable option, but we'd kill millions of innocents along with the bad guys. The brass once suggested that armies in open areas could be wiped out with a single nuke. However, no modern army is going to just line up and wait to be nuked short of a parade or show of force. (And definitely not in an unpopulated area.) Supercarriers and other large ocean-going vessels are good "soft" targets for nukes, but to what effect? Only the US floats supercarriers. With over a dozen in service plus hundreds of supporting vessels, all other navies are already outclassed.

In the end, our nuclear arsenal serves one purpose: deterrence. Whoever might want to lob nukes out way is aware that we have nukes of our own to lob back. And we WANT those nukes to be as eco-unfriendly as possible so that they won't do any stupid calculations like "we'll take out 20 million of their's in exchange for 1 million of ours." Instead, the calculation should be, "if we kill 20 million of their's, we die."

Re:Good reason to get shut (-1, Flamebait)

NineNine (235196) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121625)

Cities would seem to be the most viable option, but we'd kill millions of innocents along with the bad guys.

In case you haven't noticed, that hasn't stopped the US before. Estimates hover in the 200,000-ish range of the number of innocent Iraqis killed by the US military since the most recent invasion. Unfortunately, I really don't think that the US would hesitate to nuke a middle-eastern city.

Re:Good reason to get shut (3, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121581)

What the funding should go towards is creating weapons that do effectively just as much damage without the radiation fallout.

We already have them. They are called fuel-air bombs.

The point of having nuclear weapons is being able to have mutually assured destruction. Even if we have an enemy whose homeland is vague, if one is detonated on US soil expect something bad to happen to anybody we suspect.

That's why non-nuclear weapons with megaton yields aren't enough. You have to know that the land will be uninhabitable for years on both sides.

Re:Good reason to get shut (4, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121293)

Given the relative positions of "guns" and "butter" on ye olde national shopping list, you really don't want things to be bad enough that we can't afford guns. I agree that nukes are of limited relevance for a lot of issues more pressing than re-fighting the cold war in the paranoid imaginations of wrinkly old guys; but given the ability of tactically irrelevant weapons systems to continue to suck down massive funding for years or decades, I really don't want things to be so grim that they get cut; because that will mean than virtually everything else got the axe first.

Re:Good reason to get shut (5, Funny)

Torontoman (829262) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121353)

Wouldn't it be ironic if the missing ingredient in making Fogbank was Butter?

Torontoman

Re:Good reason to get shut (4, Funny)

Hordeking (1237940) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121665)

Wouldn't it be ironic if the missing ingredient in making Fogbank was Butter?

Torontoman

Actually, there are several missing ingredients.

  • HOPE(tm)
  • CHANGE(tm)
  • Butter
  • Sprinkles
  • Kittens

Re:Good reason to get shut (0)

xch13fx (1463819) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121295)

In the current global climate, there's no point in having nuclear missiles. Those who could strike us are no longer interested and are now allies and those who are hostile and nuclear capable can't reach us.

...yet...

Ah the naivety of youth (3, Informative)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121469)

"In the current global climate, there's no point in having nuclear missiles"

Right, because russia isn't being beligerant, Iran isn't keeping up its worn out Death to the USA rhetoric and hasn't just developed a ballistic missle capable of carrying nuclear missiles, various islamic groups arn't trying to obtain fissile material etc etc.

"and are now allies "

Really? Tell that to Georgia (the european country).

"who are hostile and nuclear capable can't reach us"

Yes, because making a rocket go a few extra thousand miles is such a challenge compared to developing a nuclear bomb.

Re:Ah the naivety of youth (4, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121763)

Yes, because making a rocket go a few extra thousand miles is such a challenge compared to developing a nuclear bomb.

Actually, it is. The USA got nukes well over a decade before creating the first ICBM (1957). The first nuclear bombs were dropped from a plane. Developing the kind of aircraft that could get through the defences of the average nuclear power is even harder than developing an ICBM. You can't just load it into a conventional bomber and hope for the best. WW2-style bombing raids were only viable because the planes were cheap and it didn't matter if a load of them were shot down.

8 Years in the Difference (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121717)

In the current global climate, there's no point in having nuclear missiles. Those who could strike us are no longer interested and are now allies and those who are hostile and nuclear capable can't reach us.

All this was true at the beginning of the Bush presidency. None of it is true after.

Do a taste test?!? (5, Funny)

fodi (452415) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121231)

Just get Gordon Ramsay to taste it. He'll tell you what's in it.

Re:Do a taste test?!? (3, Funny)

RDW (41497) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121579)

Apparently Heston Blumenthal has already been experimenting with it in the Fat Duck's ill-advised 'Fogbank and Plutonium porridge':

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/berkshire/7927715.stm [bbc.co.uk]

Buy back the plans? (-1, Troll)

ConfrontationalGrayh (1199233) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121237)

Perhaps we can buy back the plans from China? Thank Clinton for selling them most of our nuclear secrets.

Re:Buy back the plans? (5, Funny)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121685)

Perhaps we can buy back the plans from China? Thank Clinton for selling them most of our nuclear secrets.

He wasn't selling secrets, he was making backups!

As Dave Barry would say (1)

wiredog (43288) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121243)

"Oops". Sometimes I'm not sure if I'm reading Slashdot or Dave's Blog [herald.com] .

Not the only time (4, Interesting)

EdZ (755139) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121245)

A similar problem exists with the SR-71's engines: some key documentation was destroyed in the interests of secrecy, which has greatly complicated maintenance work on the remaining aircraft.

Re:Not the only time (3, Interesting)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121401)

Who is still flying them? To my knowledge the last SR-71 flight was 10 years ago or so.
 
On a somewhat related note, I was watching some stuff on the U-2 a few days ago and I have to think that the days are numbered on that aircraft as well. Between advances with satellites and UAVs, manned surveillance aircraft don't seem to make much sense.

Re:Not the only time (4, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121519)

Who is still flying them? To my knowledge the last SR-71 flight was 10 years ago or so.

They have two at Beale AFB in Marysville, CA. According to people I know who work on base, one is kept in a constant state of operational readiness. That's expensive, so you wouldn't do this unless you were using the damned thing. You'd never notice a launch, because they're launching aircraft of all sizes out of there night and day with constant training flights and U2 overflight.

Re:Not the only time (1)

curmudgeous (710771) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121527)

I believe I heard recently that NASA still has a couple of SR-71's in their stable for high altitude/high speed research.

Re:Not the only time (4, Interesting)

je ne sais quoi (987177) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121559)

NASA [nasa.gov] was still flying them, as they were, and still are as far as I know, the highest flying and fastest aircraft available. That article I linked to says the last flight was in 1999.

Incidentally, regarding lost war tech., I had always heard that the U.S. no longer has the ability to cast the shells for the large 16" guns on the iowa class battleships, I have no idea if it's true though.

Re:Not the only time (3, Interesting)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121605)

Problem is, when you shoot a satellite down, it can take years to develop another one, and weeks to launch it into orbit. UAV's can have their signals jammed, and most depend on satellites for either GPS, or control. A plane can maneuver, and quite often be there much quicker than waiting for a satellite to come into position.

That Thing We Did? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27121255)

Researcher A: Hey what was that thing we did with the spherical thing made of some sort of weird element that was like hit with a rod of some other sort of weird element that made like a really huge explosion back in the day? You know like when we helped un-nazi the world forever?
Researcher B: Oh snap that's right! You better write that down like before we forget that again.

Re:That Thing We Did? (0)

dlaudel (1304717) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121679)

How does nuking thousands of Japanese civilians un-nazi the world?

Also, I'm pretty* sure it wasn't a Trident missile that was used.


*100%

Not worry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27121261)

US officials say that manufacturing Fogbank requires a solvent cleaning agent which is "extremely flammable" and "explosive" and that the process involves dealing with "toxic materials" hazardous to workers.

They need Brawndo.

Re:Not worry (1)

Hordeking (1237940) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121689)

US officials say that manufacturing Fogbank requires a solvent cleaning agent which is "extremely flammable" and "explosive" and that the process involves dealing with "toxic materials" hazardous to workers.

They need Brawndo.

Torgo's Executive Powder might come in handy, too.

Golly (3, Insightful)

sbierwagen (1493705) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121273)

Maybe we shouldn't be refurbishing these warheads, then? Who, precisely, will we be using them on?

Re:Golly (4, Insightful)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121635)

We've been using them on countries for decades. Nuclear Deterrence. Perhaps you thought their intended use was to blow up?

Easy solution (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27121275)

Let Dr. Gaius Baltar reverse engineer the missiles and contruct a superior refurbished version (like an old MacBook with a new main board and fat harddrive).

Use the phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27121289)

Call the retired folks at home and ask them to come back as consulates. Has to be easiest and most obvious answer.

Re:Use the phone (2, Funny)

Jeoh (1393645) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121501)

I may be large, but I'm not a building!

Disinformation (5, Insightful)

Demonantis (1340557) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121291)

I think this speaks of a larger problem in how the US government organizes itself. NASA had the same issue with some spaceship components because new people were not trained on how legacy systems were built. This issue is happening through many departments in the US government. The US government's extreme isolationism and disinformation for public forums allows them to be years ahead in technology that could help the general public, but means that the people can't benefit from the technology they fund until it has been independently discovered or rendered a relic by some new technology.

Re:Disinformation (2, Insightful)

cwills (200262) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121555)

The problem isn't only in the US government. It's also in the IT (and probably many other) industries. In the rush to make more profit, the people who know how things really work under the covers are let go (because that component is working well enough). In the meantime there is a huge amount of new work sitting on top of of all this old stuff. As long as nothing under the cover breaks everything is just fine.

Re:Disinformation (4, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121687)

NASA had the same issue with some spaceship components because new people were not trained on how legacy systems were built.

I hope you're not referring to the "we lost the blueprints to the Saturn V" urban legend. Because if you are, you need to be aware that the US has all the plans and the experience it needs to rebuild these craft. What it doesn't have is the heavy industrial base. Material science has moved the US significantly forward from the heavy metal construction and high noise/high latency electronics used in the original SatV. Rebuilding the SatV would be more effort than just designing a new spacecraft.

If you're just referring to a few components here and there, then I have to argue that these things just happen. Systems age, get out of date, and certain challenges arise in maintenance. For someone like NASA, they're not that difficult to solve. It can take quite a few man hours to understand the part properly and re-machine it (even if original staff are on hand; people tend to forget things over time), but the job still gets done with a minimum amount of fuss.

This issue is a far more worrisome problem. Due to the need for secrecy (there was a HUGE concern that the USSR would obtain our technology), many of the steps were maintained as secrets in people's heads rather than on paper. That makes it difficult to combat the brain drain that invariably happened both as the engineers and researchers aged and the Cold War wound down.

Like James Bond destroying his instructions? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27121307)

Mission Impossible, yes. James Bond, no.

Re:Like James Bond destroying his instructions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27121735)

I guess shooting "M" would mean a s*****d of paperwork...

uhh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27121315)

"This is like James Bond destroying his instructions as soon as he has read them,"

I think you mean Inspector Gadget... but maybe that's just me

I have this really novel idea (3, Insightful)

hellfire (86129) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121317)

How about you just decommission the warheads and missiles?

I mean Obama is all about curtailing military spending. Here's a good cut, right? /hippyliberalantiweaponcommentary

Re:I have this really novel idea (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121607)

How about you just decommission the warheads and missiles?

Sure. Right after the rest of the World agrees to do so. Oh, you mean Russia and China won't give up their nukes just because Americans want to behave like flower children? Aww shucks, I guess we'll have to keep our nuclear deterrent then......

Re:I have this really novel idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27121715)

that's not an inflammatory comment that is seething with bias.

I'm pretty liberal, and if i could I'd halve the military budget. However, I would still keep a fair stockpile of nukes. I believe in a defensive military.

We just don't need to keep making our foreign policy oriented around a military that puts it's nose into everybody's business. 'Cause, when your primary means of foreign policy is a hammer, everything else just looks like a nail.

Re:I have this really novel idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27121817)

I have a really novel idea, this stuff is already bought and paid for, it saves money if we refurbish the equipment we already have, not to mention keeping up with not making anymore weapons like this.

Just because Obama wants to cut spending and hold hands with the world doesn't mean the rest of the world is going to fall in line like those hippyliberalantiweaponcommentary type people. We still need to be able to defend ourselves.

Anarchist Cookbook perhaps? (1)

Wescotte (732385) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121323)

I'm sure it's in there in.

Re:Anarchist Cookbook perhaps? (1)

interiot (50685) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121647)

Oh, the Anarchist Cookbook has most of the elements, sure:
  • Recipes involving hazardous chemicals? Check.
  • Recipes that are likely to explode during key stages of manufacture? Check.
  • Recipes that warn you in advance about manufacturing risks? Nope! (caveat emptor)
  • Recipes that give good advice on mitigating the risk of explosion during manufacture? Again, no.

Well, two for four isn't bad, right?

Whatever happened to reverse engineering? (2, Funny)

DomainDominator (1493131) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121325)

We need to get back the ol' American ingenuity and CAN-DO attitude! Remember we Uh-Mericans can do anything!

Re:Whatever happened to reverse engineering? (1)

Trent Hawkins (1093109) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121615)

We need to get back the ol' American ingenuity and CAN-DO attitude! Remember we Uh-Mericans can do anything!

Just get the Russians to do it for you. It's cheaper and more productive then American ingenuity.

Re:Whatever happened to reverse engineering? (1)

VShael (62735) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121771)

Remember we Uh-Mericans can do anything!

Or, hire Mexicans/Poles/Indians to do it.

CS students and weapons engineers take note! (4, Insightful)

east coast (590680) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121333)

This is why it's important to document your code... or your warheads. Either or.

Actual Explanation ... (5, Interesting)

Cassini2 (956052) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121347)

The material in the design specification was essentially unobtanium. It couldn't be manufactured at all. Quietly, the manufacturing engineers developed a solution that almost met all of the design specifications, and this was an excellent compromise. Unfortunately, the design engineers couldn't be convinced to sign off on the design change because of quality procedure 15, and military qualification 7. However, the biggest reason the design engineers wouldn't sign off on the change was because of a supposedly critical but practically useless mandatory project requirement, like the missile must work when fired in -40 degree water from 20 feet under the polar ice shelf.

The manufacturing engineers decided that the "fire nuclear missile while under ice shelf function", probably wouldn't be used, so the modified material was actually just fine. They shipped the missiles, got paid, and everyone was happy. Until now, when someone tries to "fix" the original "fix".

This story has happened before and will happen again. Whenever you bump into a design that requires a part that "does not exist", watch out for the possibility that the part never did "exist". It could be that you are reading a "design" document, and not what manufacturing actually built. I've worked in manufacturing, and there are lots of stories about impossible to make designs that somehow got shipped.

Secret Ingredient - Gran's cake. (5, Funny)

Torontoman (829262) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121375)

My European grandmother made a cake that could easily withstand the middle stages of a nuclear explosion.

Re:Actual Explanation ... (5, Funny)

troll8901 (1397145) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121423)

The material in the design specification was essentially unobtanium.

... also known as element 404.

Re:Actual Explanation ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27121631)

-40 degree water under normal earth conditions? Please do explain.

Re:Actual Explanation ... (2, Funny)

blueskies (525815) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121711)

I heard they have the file that contains all of the instructions for making it, BUT the file is in a proprietary binary format and no one knows how to read it.

Re:Actual Explanation ... (1)

amori (1424659) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121799)

Sounds a whole lot like Internet Explorer.

This is very scary! (1, Insightful)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121383)

While I am very concerned about this, I am not surprised at all. It is by coincidence that I was reading this website [cuttingedge.org] and found out that despite perceived Russian problems, the USA is at least a decade behind Russia in missile technology!

Below are two snippets of the whole article. Scary!

"Despite the Pentagon's development of a new generation of hypersonic missile, the U.S. is still a decade behind Russia in high-speed cruise-missile design, according to defense analysts. According to the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, the U.S. military is developing a new hypersonic robot missile reported to be capable of traveling in excess of six times the speed of sound and armed with its own miniature smart bombs. The new weapon, called the Advanced Rapid Response Missile Demonstrator, or ARRMD, is designed to cruise at over 4,000 miles an hour and strike targets hundreds of miles away in only a few seconds. "

"Nevertheless, defense analysts agree that the U.S. is fully a decade behind Russia in high-speed cruise missile designs. Russia currently deploys and exports the supersonic SS-N-22 Moskit cruise missile, NATO codenamed "Sunburn." The SS-N-22 is considered the most lethal anti-ship missile in the world, and flies at over 2.5 times the speed of sound only a few feet from the surface of the water." [This speed amounts to almost 1,700 miles per hour, or 28 miles per minute]."

Folks, we can't let this happen.

Can't let it happen? (2, Informative)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121531)

Sorry to point this out but it looks like it already has. Anyway , the russians have always been pretty smart when its come to high speed kit whether it be rocket motors or jet fighters. Look how far ahead of their time the Mig 25 foxbat and Mig 29 fulcrum were/are.

Re:This is very scary! (1)

Kuroji (990107) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121533)

Yes, I'm sure that those will be a major threat, right behind the Russian Air Force completing replacement of their obsolescent aircraft with the Sukhoi Su-47.

Re:This is very scary! (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121553)

Folks, we can't let this happen.

Who gives a shit? MAD only requires that we are able to nuke each other into powder, not that we are able to do it faster. So what if we're glowing before they are? These days you can put a tacnuke on a cruise missile, and we have a lot of 'em.

Re:This is very scary! (2, Informative)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121621)

If the US keeps going the way it is we'll get to see them in action soon enough. It's believed that Iran got Sunburns via China a few years ago.

The fifth fleet is sitting off their coast in a what is basically a bay, otherwise known as being sitting ducks.

sounds like a good time for some innovation. (1)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121391)

since we can't remember how to make the 1980's era stuff, let's make something new and innovative.

really? We would rather have stuff from the 1980's?

Re:sounds like a good time for some innovation. (3, Informative)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121545)

Everything was better in the 80's.
Music, TV, Films.
So much so that this last decade has seen more remakes, covers sequels and reimaginings from that era than any other... ... so why not missiles too?

Re:sounds like a good time for some innovation. (2, Funny)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121619)

If you started doing mountains of blow again, you would think everything was great again.

just when the warranty runs out ... (3, Insightful)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121413)

Typical, now I suppose we'll all just have to buy the new "improved" nuclear weapons.

There is a serious side to this. The US hasn't actually built any nukes, stuck 'en on a rocket, fired them and had a successful BOOM for well over 40 years. That must be coming up for 2 generations of rocket / nuclear scientists and the third generation is now in training. That means that the "new guys" will learn from people who didn't have any practical experience and in turn learned from the people who actually *did it* nearly 50 years ago.

Re:just when the warranty runs out ... (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121459)

The US hasn't actually built any nukes, stuck 'en on a rocket, fired them and had a successful BOOM for well over 40 years.

Has there ever been a "terrestrial" test of a combination of ICBM and nuclear warhead? I only recall detonating a few nukes in space to see what happens in that case ...

Re:just when the warranty runs out ... (2, Interesting)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121699)

To my knowledge we've never tested a live ICBM but we DID test a SLBM during Operation Dominic [wikipedia.org] . The USS Ethan Allen launched a Polaris Missile and the RV came down somewhere near Christmas Island and had an airburst detonation. Check out this [nuclearweaponarchive.org] site and search for "Frigate Bird" for some pictures.

Wait??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27121429)

"ensure they are safe and reliable" Cup of Irony anyone?

The secret ingredient (2, Funny)

Pope (17780) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121437)

is tar! [imdb.com]

Re:The secret ingredient (1)

GuyverDH (232921) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121729)

I didn't have to click the imdb link (or hover over) to know you referred to the secret ingredient to artificial kryptonite, created by Richard Pryor's character.

Yes - I watch too much tv for my own (and future generation's) good.

I can see it now... (1)

webdog314 (960286) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121441)

Some old guy fly-fishing in the middle of nowhere when a black helicopter lands nearby and three beefy men in suits and black sunglasses hop out.

"Excuse the interruption of your retirement, Doctor, but you're going to need to come with us..."

Happens all the time (1)

olddotter (638430) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121447)

You don't value something until you lose it. Applies to dating, business, and top secret government projects.

Conveniently forgotten? (1)

hashwolf (520572) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121475)

Well, if you showed me some dough I "might" remember sir.

Just imagine this scenario...

1) You have the blueprints and technology
2) Hide blueprints and "forget" about technology
3) Ask for budget to redevelop
4) Redevelop using hidden blueprints
5) ???
6) Profit!

We should probably just ask the Chinese (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27121537)

Aren't they supposed to have copies of every nuclear weapon we've designed?

Advanced Engineering (4, Insightful)

jpmorgan (517966) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121543)

See, this is what happens when you don't continue to spend money on extremely advanced engineering projects: you lose the technology. Technology isn't just a textbook and some blueprints, it requires the experience and knowledge of scientists and engineers. It's a living thing: shelve it, and it dies.

It would be nice to think this would serve as an abject lesson to congresscritters, next time they think about cutting funding for something 'we don't need right now.' Although I'm cynical enough not to believe that.

Ask the FSB ... (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121571)

... or whatever these guys are called now. Maybe they haven't lost their copy of the plans yet. Of course, don't make a big buzz about it and bring a few suitcases full of gold in exchange for the favor.

Defense Employee's Dream (1)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121595)

When I worked for a defense contractor, I always dreamed of being the single point of failure for something very important and leaving the company.

Charge an extremely high hourly rate retired folks. Repair your 401K!

That's what you get for secret alien technology (1)

gelfling (6534) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121599)

You've got to read secret alien to make sense out of the owners' manual.

Sounds like a job for... (1)

Evro (18923) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121653)

almost all staff with expertise on production had retired or left the agency

... a highly paid consultant! If they left but they have the knowledge, pay them 10x what they used to make to get them to tell you how to do it... I thought this is how defense contracting worked, so why haven't they thought of this?

Is a secret (1)

sp3cialk79 (1491119) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121663)

That's the problem with securing your documents, you secure them so well that even you forget what the hell you were securing in the first place. Maybe they'll forget how to send people to war..hmm could that be the key to peace on earth? give US government alzheimers.

NOTA BENE: This is not possible. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27121667)

Having worked at this facility in the '80's as an engineer, I can say definitively that this scenario is either misunderstood, or incorrectly reported, or deliberately obfuscated, or a lie, or postulated from sketchy evidence, but it is factually and wholly wrong.

Every project for every material or product, special or otherwise, was properly documented. These files would not be destroyed. (Note here that I'm assuming the files on "fogbank" were not lost in an accident or by malicious destruction.)

Now, has the practical and hands-on knowledge of the step-by-step, moment-by-moment synthesis reaction to make this material been lost? Perhaps in the course of 25 years it has. Lots of people have left the plant since then. But all the information, notations and observations necessary to reconstruct the process/project do exist, I assure you.

Re:NOTA BENE: This is not possible. (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121795)

Or it was destroyed without your knowledge. You know, because its secret and all, they probably didn't tell everyone.

misleading (1)

Swampash (1131503) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121693)

"Scientists" haven't forgotten how to manufacture this stuff. The USA has forgotten how to manufacture this stuff. That's what happens when you stop thinking about science.

Trident Missle Resource Page: +1, Helpful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27121749)

For help, please contact this consultant [draqkhan.com.pk] .

Yours In Socialism,
Kilgore Trout

Ask the... (1)

rosesuchak (951518) | more than 5 years ago | (#27121819)

Ask the KGB.
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