Tuesday, October 25, 2011
LAST COLD WAR MONSTER NUCLEAR BOMB DISMANTLED
At one time, the two superpowers (the US and USSR) had enough weaponry to kill every living thing on the planet 15 times over. It was a period of history that birthed McCarthyism in the 50′s, Vietnam in the 60′s, and media such a “Red Dawn” and “The Morning After” in the 80′s. But with the collapse of the Soviet Union, America found itself with an arsenal of mega-weapons that were no longer necessary (not that they ever were). It began the slow process of disarming some of the older weapons stored in bunkers around the globe.
A process that is continuing today, with a welcome landmark happening in Amarillo, Texas. The last of the “monster” nuclear bombs is being dismantled and disposed of. The B-53 “dumb” bomb. Called dumb for the fact that it’s accuracy was atrocious, it had enough destructive capability to miss its intended target by a considerable distance, but wipe out the surrounding area so that the target was destroyed. For comparison, the bomb dropped on Hiroshima during the end of World War II was 12 kilotons, the B-53 was rated at 900 megatons.
The last of its kind, the B-53 used to be on constant 24 hour ready-alert in the skies mounted on the old B-52 Strato-fortresses. Put into operation in 1954, they have been an active part of the US stockpile up until 1997 when it was decommissioned. The last B-53, pictured above, was brought to the energy department’s Pantex plant in Amarillo where it will slowly be stripped of the 300 pounds of explosive it contains, as well as the uranium “pit”, and stored for a time. At a later date the pit and explosive will be disposed of in a highly monitored method, ending the life of one of the most destructive weapons in history.