The First U.S. “Broken Arrow” Remains Missing



“Broken Arrow” is the name given to nuclear weapon accidents, whether by accidental launching, detonating, theft or loss of the weapon. The first broken arrow occurred on February 14, 1950, when a B-36 en route from Eielson AFB near Fairbanks, Alaska, to Carswell AFB in Fort Worth, Texas, crashed in northern British Columbia after jettisoning a Mark 4 nuclear bomb into the Pacific Ocean. The bomb was never found. That was the first loss of a nuclear weapon in history. Since that time, the U.S. has admitted to 31 other broken arrows, with the last one going missing on August 29, 2007. At Minot AFB in North Dakota, six cruise missiles loaded with a nuclear warhead, were mistakenly loaded onto a B-52 bomber and transported to Barksdale AFB in Louisiana. The nuclear warheads were supposed to have been removed before transport, but they weren’t. Once at Barksdale, the missiles with the nuclear warheads remained mounted to the aircraft for 36 hours and were not protected by the various mandatory security precautions for nuclear weapons. The missiles were never reported as missing by Minot AFB.