Sunday, September 16, 2012

UFO ICBM/Nuke Connection: Does It Really Exist?

UFOs causing havoc over US ICBM sites?  This tends to be an off/on subject raised on various Internet sites.  The prevailing thought among a few noted Ufologist is that UFOs have been overflying nuclear weapon sites (ICBMs) for a number of decades.  Do the facts support this premise, or is it merely the case of relying solely on subjective vs. that of the available objective data?

Currently, the most vocal proponent of UFO/Nukes connection is Robert Hastings.  Hastings has devoted almost 40 years developing the theory that UFOs have been overflying our nuclear ICBM sites for years and in some cases deliberately causing operational disruptions.  He bases his "proof" on the statements given by some 130 former active duty personnel.  Hastings has conceded, on some occasions, to provide the qualifier that his work has been based solely on "anecdotal" information, i.e., the unverifiable words of witnesses providing statements.  In short, Hastings has constructed a correlation hypothesis bases on the words of his sources.  Below is  a brief outline of Hastings' work, much from his book, UFOs and Nukes:  Extraordinary Encounters at Nuclear Weapons Sites.

In UFO and Nukes, Robert Hastings asks the following questions (

During the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union built thousands of the far more destructive hydrogen bombs, some of them a thousand times as destructive as the first atomic bombs dropped on Japan. If the nuclear standoff between the superpowers had erupted into World War III, human civilization—and perhaps the very survival of our species—would have been at risk.
Did this ominous state of affairs come to the attention of outside observers? Was there a connection between the atomic bomber squadron based at Roswell and the reported crash of a UFO nearby? Did those who pilot the UFOs monitor the superpowers' nuclear arms race during the dangerous Cold War era? Do they scrutinze American and Russian weapons sites even now?

The above questions are fair enough for consideration.  For the purpose of this blog post, I'll limit most of my thoughts to the United States' ICBM forces.  With that said, Hastings has posted numerous articles on the Internet with the attempt to prove his UFO/Nuke connection with most being segments from his book.  These articles can be accessed on Hastings' site and The UFO Chronicles web site, as well as, other on-line venues.

Did UFO activity disrupt the operations of our ICBMs at various times during the Cold War?  To attempt to find the answer to that question, one has to look at the various missile systems that were fielded during the time period of the Cold War.  As far as defining "the disruption of ICBM operations", the subject should be looked at from the view point that UFOs may have altered the strategic alert status of our ICBM forces.


The Atlas ICBM with its variations (D, E, F models) was placed in 11 base locations through out the continental United States totaling 123 missile/launch sites.  The missile used a combination of RP-1 (high grade kerosene) and liquid oxygen (oxidizer) as its fuel.  Prior to launch, the missile had to be raised from its protective enclosure and loaded with the LOX prior to actual launch.  This propellant loading procedure, per SAC protocol, would have taken 15 minutes.  The Atlas missile was operational as an ICBM from 1960 to 1965.  There are four documented major incidents involving the Atlas at operational sites.

The 579th Strategic Missile Squadron located at Walker AFB, NM (Roswell) had three of it's site effectively destroyed during propellant loading exercises on three separate occasions.  Launch complex 579-1 was destroyed on 1 June 1963, site 579-5 suffered an explosion on 13 February 1964, and site 579-2 was destroyed on 9 March 1964.  Again, all three incidents occurred during a propellant loading exercise and no nuclear warheads were mated to the launch vehicle at the time of the explosions. (1)(2)  Of interest, the 579th SMS fielded the Atlas F that was housed in an underground silo, but had to be raised out of the silo for launch.

The 577th Strategic Missile Squadron located at Altus AFB, OK had one of its sites destroyed (577-6, Atlas F' silo housed) on14 May 1964.  As similar to the incidents at Walker AFB,  Altus' accident was a result of a propellant loading exercise. (3)

Based on the four major incidents and the Atlas' vulnerability to Soviet attack, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, in 1964, ordered the phase out of the Atlas ICBM system.  By the end of 1965 all Atlas missile sites were deactivated.  The Atlas ICBM would go on to further glory as an outstanding launch vehicle for NASA.

Titan I

The Titan I ICBM was deployed to 5 bases totaling 54 sites.  Like the Atlas, Titan I relied on RP-1 and LOX as its fuel source.  The missile was housed in an underground silo, but had to be raised to the surface, loaded with LOX prior to launch.  The Titan I system was on alert from 1960 to 1965 the, as Atlas, deactivated as the Titan IIs and Minuteman systems deployed. (4) 

During the operational life of the Titan I, there was two incidents at Beale AFB that occurred prior to the 851st SMS reaching alert status.  On 24 May 1962, during contractor checkout at complex 4C near Chico, CA, two explosions destroyed a missile and heavily damaged the silo.  The two explosions resulted from a blocked vent and blocked valve.  At another site, 6 June 1962, a flash fire damaged the silo killing one worker. (5)  The Beale sites had yet to be certified as operational and had no nuclear RVs mated to the boosters.

Titan II

On August 9, 1965, Titan II launch complex 373-4 (373rd Strategic Missile Squadron) which was located near Searcy, Arkansas, suffered a devastating fire in its silo resulting in the deaths of 53 civilian contractors who were modifying the site under Project YARD FENCE.  This program was designed to increase the hardness of Titan II sites against nuclear blasts.  The fire started from arc welding equipment.  373-4's missile (minus the RV) being fully loaded with propellant was allowed to remain in the silo during the modification program.  There was no major damage to the missile itself.  Had the propellant ignited, one could only wonder how many more would have been killed.(6)

On September 19, 1980, the Titan II launch complex located near Damascus, Arkansas suffered a catastrophic explosion killing at least one AF member and destroying the missile and it's silo.  The site was undergoing routine maintenance and a heavy socket from a wrench was accidently dropped into the bottom of the silo.  The socket bounced off of the silo walls striking and piercing the missile's thin skin causing the leakage of propellant.  After 8 hours of attempts to contain the propellant leak, an explosion rocked the site causing the silo's blast doors to totally dislodge and propelling the missile's RV some 600 feet away from the site.  This single incident forced the Air Force to hasten the deactivation of the entire Titan II system which was fielded at three locations:  Arizona, Arkansas and Kansas.  By the end of 1986, all 54 Titan II ICBM sites would be deactivated.(7)

On a personal note, I had arrived at Vandenberg AFB for my Initial Qualification Training (missile crew training), October 1980, approximately one month after the incident at Damascus, AR.  I recall that I had attended a safety briefing in which the Damascus incident was discussed in detail. What is not told in any of the on-line write-ups is that supposedly the AF had a difficult time finding and recovering the RV.  For an extended period of time, it was effectively "lost."  Whether this was factual or not, it does underscore the intensity of the explosion and the total destruction of the silo.    

Minuteman (I, II, and III)

The only documented incident in the Minuteman I system occurred at Malmstrom's Echo Flight on March 16, 1967.  I'll refrain from going into detail since most of this blog has been devoted to Echo Flight and the reader can "search" this blog for the pertinent articles.  I'm reluctant to list Malmstrom's Oscar Flight due to the lack of any credible evidence supporting an event affecting that flight's operational status.  The reader can draw his/her own conclusions.

In October, 2010, FE Warren AFB's 319th SMS experienced a total squadron communication outage affecting all of the squadron's 50 Minuteman III ICBMs.  Subsequent Air Force investigations revealed that a faulty or improper seated circuit card in the Weapon System Processor at one of the Launch Control Centers resulted in all five LCCs to be "knocked" out of system synchronicity and disrupting time slot round-robin monitoring.  None of the 50 ICBMs were affected operationally and remained on alert.  There is ample evidence that similar events had occurred at both Malmstrom and Minot in the 1990s.(8)

With the exception of the Malmstrom and FE Warren events, none of the Atlas and Titan events had a UFO component to the story.  The only true Broken Arrow event would have been the Damascus, Arkansas incident since it involved a real nuclear RV and again, no one has ever come forward to claim a UFO as it's causation or spotted one in the vicinity of the site.  The UFO story component for the 2010 FE Warren incident only came into being after Robert Hastings had visited the area some two to three months after the incident.  I touched on FE Warren's emergent UFO lore in a couple of previous blog post.

A Hypothetical Look

Going back to Hastings' thoughts that UFOs have attempted to disrupt US ICBM forces, let's hypothetically agree with his premise.  What has been the impact of the various UFO incursions?   If a message was being sent by "outside" observers to discourage the use of nuclear delivery systems, then the US government would have abandoned it's ICBM program since the fielding of those weapon systems would have been deemed as futile.  Yet, despite the supposedly ET interference we see a different response from the government/military.

The early Atlas and Titan I weapon systems were phased out for the more reliable and safer Minuteman and Titan II missiles.  Titan II was eventually phased out due to its complexity and unpredictability with housing a fully propellant loaded missile in it's silo.  Equally important to it's phase out was the enormous costs required to keep the Titan II on constant alert status.  Can we draw the conclusion that UFOs sent a "message" that the Atlas and Titan systems were overly too complicated, unpredictable and economically draining to the treasury?

Since it's deployment in 1962, the Minuteman system has evolved from its initial conception as a potential mobile based weapon to that of a complex command and control weapon system supporting a remotely silo based missile.  This missile system has undergone modifications from that of the Minuteman I, II, III missiles to that of the command and control systems (Modernized, SAS, ILCS, CDB, and the current REACT).  This evolutionary process had progressed unhindered and with out interference regardless of the UFO story component.  IF UFOs and ETs were attempting to send messages of concern, then its obvious that we either were not paying close attention or we were consciously ignoring the threat.


Is there credible evidence that UFO's disrupted the operations of US ICBMs?  The facts appear not to support this hypothesis.   All documented mishaps and problems have been attributed mostly to human error in dealing with complex systems.  The major ICBM weapon systems have evolved solely based on the concepts of system reliability and economic cost factors.  Missiles/rockets that relied on liquid propellants and oxidizers gave way to safer solid propellants thus reducing mishaps.  Individuals such as Robert Hastings have presented anecdotal evidence that "strange" lights of an undetermined nature have been sighted over and near US ICBM sites, but he has failed to demonstrate that this phenomena resulted in the operational disruption of our nuclear missile forces.  We, as humans, have been quite adapt at disrupting our ICBMs with out needing help from ET.    


  1. Outstanding summary, Tim. I've often thought that Hastings' reliance on the silly story that ET has been trying to warn us dumb humans about the dangers of nuclear weaponry is one of the weakest elements defining his UFOs-Nukes "theory" (I put this in quotes, because in my opinion it's misleading any potential audience when someone refers to a deliberate, consciously presented lie as anything other than a lie). If true, it represents a pretty sloppy communication for such an allegedly superior, wise, and intelligent species. In regard to only one of the examples you discuss above -- the Echo Flight incident -- our little ET friends seem to have offered up their warning a bit too late to do any actual good. After all, by the time March 1967 hopped into history, the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. had just recently signed a particularly effective and historic nuclear weapons treaty that banned open air testing of nuclear weapons. Obviously, we were already somewhat aware of the dangers nuclear weapons tend to represent. For such an advanced species, their little "warning" comes up a little flat. As far as this delivery of portent is concerned, ET seems to have a problem issuing their warnings. Are we expected to believe that they couldn't write a letter to get rid of the ambiguity of shutting down a bunch of missiles by a means identical in every way to a power surge or lightning strike in the LCC? 20-years since Roswell, and they couldn't manage to learn a little English? Let's see -- they crash their vehicles all over the place, they're apparently illiterate and have no real desire to correct that weakness, they can't use a telephone, and they seem to have isolated themselves in their own cultural wasteland, refusing to attempt any type of socially reasonable, expressed interaction with the targets of their attention, preferring instead to abduct them and deploy enough anally focused examinations sufficient to ensure the creation of a long-standing and instantly recognizable cliche. What are they -- Appalachian Mountain hillbillies? Oh, they're the extras from "Deliverance" ("he got a pretty mouth . . ." "now you squeal like a pig, boy . . .). More to the point (the one Hastings prefers), why is it that they presumably communicate the same message over the course of 40-years? You'd think that after 5-years tops, they'd figure out that their chosen means of communication seems to be somewhat ineffective, and probably needs something of a reboot.

    On the other hand, if ET's goal is to persuade the nations of the world that they absolutely need more nuclear weapons simply to have some form of defense against the unknown, indiscreet, and obviously hostile foe these UFOs represent, than ET has adopted exactly the right type of behavior and response to all the nuclear weapons treaties that we've managed to sign all on our own. We need to stock up on those hydrogen bombs as well -- there's just no telling what kind of enemy these alien terrorists actually represent.

  2. James, good observations relative to the weapons reduction due to the SALT treaties.

    I (shamefully) forgot about the Peacekeeper ICBM! Peacekeeper, MX for some, was fielded in FE Warren silos built for MM IIIs. But it's the same story in that there was no UFO story surrounding this ICBM. Hell of a missile though!

    You also uncovered the vital "under belly" of the Disclosure movement(?) showing the same fallacy of miss communication or no communications with ET and governmental entities. Based on what I've seen, ETs certainly are equally economical dumb asses as they seem to be no help for humanity in that area!

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  4. I think the tone of Mr. Hastings lectures/articles all have to do with his dislike of nuclear weapons. It is his belief that the aliens are trying to send a message to disarm. Yet, despite their abilities to knock out an ICBM site (according to Hastings), they never bother to really do it. A squadron of UFOs (or maybe just one) could take out the arsenal of both countries and the message would be sent. That reminds me of an old Battlestar Galactica episode (from the 1970s) where the Gallactica prevented a nuclear exchange between two countries ready to wage war. I think Mr. Hastings has been readng (and watching) too much of this kind of stuff. He can't tell the difference between Science Fact and Science Fiction.

    1. Wasn't that also the plot of an old "Star Trek" episode?

      You raise an interesting question, though. I've always assumed that Hastings' primary message concerns the need to address the issue of wanton UFO interference with nuclear weapons with a much more thorough and publically acknowledged strategy than the USAF and DoD have been willing to apply. Due to this, I've never understood why he would so egregiously and recklessly (and stupidly) lie in regard to those same UFO claims. It's always struck me as counterproductive -- like ignoring the old mountain man maxim that it's not advisable to shit where you eat. If his real concern, however, is the stockpiling of nuclear weapons, it would go a long way to explain his noted reliance on deceit and subterfuge to bring those concerns to the public arena where they could be more appropriately discussed. If UFOs are merely a secondary concern, the subject would presumably allow him to be less "restrictive" insofar as his ethical use of the UFO phenomenon -- and the evidence he associates with it -- applies. He doesn't mind lying about UFOs, because the larger moral concern is attached to the nuclear missiles. He's not trying to warn the world about UFOs; he's trying to warn the world about nuclear weapons. More to the point, every time someone refers to his discussion of UFOs -- which, as a popular, culturally-based subject, carries with it an almost guaranteed high level of public interest that translates into massive reprints and sharing of the basic ideals involved -- they are also forced to consider the nuclear weapons aspect of the issue.

      On the other hand, I doubt very seriously that he is intelligent enough to pull off such a devious application of organized propaganda. I'm also quite certain that he would consider this sort of approach to the creation of public response and its associated point-of-view far more indicative of interference by the United States Department of Defense, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Security Agency, the Department of Homeland Security, or the entire Executive branch of the government -- an indication that would set his mouth to frothing like an overloaded cappuccino machine just before his head explodes a la David Cronenberg's "Scanners", thereby cancelling out any back door inspiration to use the same strategy himself.

      Still, it's fun to consider it ...

  5. Tim, funny how Hastings always uses the Air Force as his "whipping boy" yet never gave any "testimonials" from his Navy ballistic submarine sources.

    If UFOs are heavily concerned with nukes, would they equally be involved with our submarine forces? Just goes to show you that my past postings were correct...the Navy gets a pass, but the Air Force...!

    With that being said, I believe that in Hastings' case there is a psychological aspect stemming from his time as a dependent living on Malmstrom back in 1967. Is he anti-nuke? He'll have to take a number and get in line like the rest of that crowd.

    His correlations simply don't hold water as I hope to further demonstrate in future posts.

    1. I, for one, can't wait. That guy's been begging for a psych-eval for decades! Someone should send him to or to for some real enlightenment or some lite entertainment, both of which he could obviously use!

  6. A wonderful well written article.

    I was also wondering, have you ever read a book called "Scareforce" (Warner Books, 1995) by an alleged 'retired US Air Force Major' named Charles Hough.

    I picked this up shortly after it came out and while I had no high hopes for it, I've found it to be a fine collection of ghost stories, despite the blurb trying to paint it as X-files like revalations.

    However part of one story has bugged me and I was wondering if you would be able to comment.

    To summarise the relevant part, which can be found on page 59 of the book, supposedly early in the nuclear era someone programed a computer to answer related two questions dealing with the safety of nuclear weapons.

    The questions were: 1. Based on current practices, is an accidental detonation possible? 2. If it is, how long before it occurs?

    Supposedly the answer was to the effect that an accidental detonation should have already occurred.

    This resulted in the creation of hyper-stringent security procedures the author describes at some length before launching into a tale of Native American ghosts haunting the flight line at Grand Forks AFB.

    Have you ever heard of such a thing? I cannot believe that early computers could be programmed in such a manner.

  7. Graham, thank you for your comment. I have not read the book in question, but it sounds interesting. Perhaps I'll secure a copy in the near future.

    As far as I know, there has never been an accidental detonation of a nuclear device/weapon. To take it further, there has never been an accidental launch of an ICBM here in the US.

    Nuclear weapons are designed to be "thermal safe" meaning having the ability to withstand high heat with out causing a detonation. This has been demonstrated in the past when aircraft carrying nuclear devices have crashed and burned. That does not rule out the possibility of radioactive material being exposed and contaminating the site, but the actual detonation resulting in a nuclear yield is virtually nil.

    In order to produce a yield, a precise series of smaller concentric explosives surrounding the nuclear material must occur. I want to emphasize the concept of "precise series" as this has been the probable reason of the lack of accidental detonations.

    I hope this answers your question, again thanks for commenting!

    1. I'm not sure if I'd term it interesting or annoying.

      As fiction it's a good scary read. However its cover proclaims that the USAF would ban the book if they could and it was marketed as non-fiction...

      There are no references of any kind and the authors introduction states that some names/locations have been changed to protect the innocent...

      There are 18 stories in the book, 14 are straight ghost stories, 1 story is about a deadly co-incidence, 1 covers an alleged UFO encounter at Davis–Monthan AFB sometime in the 1970's, another is a tale of the USAF verses witches and the remaining non-ghost story features a good luck charm having the busiest day of its existance.

      The stories cover a time period from WWII up to say 1995, though the 'USAF Vs Witches' story is impossible to pin down to either a specific time or location from the evidence presented within.

      Most of the stories are third person accounts, one ("Student Ghost") is constructed from four anonymous first person accounts, another ("Never Surrender") is claimed to be the authors personal experience and a third ("The Welcoming Committee") is, strangely, written in the second person.

      I am also reasonably sure that one of the ghost stories may have been inspired by the introductions the creator of Biggles, W.E. Johns used for the collected volumes of the WW1 era Biggles stories.

      In them he described a number of tales he had heard that he would not use as the basis of his fiction, one involved a plane making a perfect landing with a dead crew. The ghost story "Deadstick Landing" has an F-4 make a perfect landing with a dead pilot and a non-flyer in the back seat.

  8. "...USAF would ban the book if they could and it was marketed as non-fiction..."

    A common ploy to boost sales? "Banned in 47 states" used to be the selling hook for many books back some 30 to 40 years ago.

    AF vs. witches story may be somewhat true since there was an actual court case some years ago where Wiccans wanted to have their own chaplains conducting services...

    Most, if not all ghost stories tend to be based on second to third person tales. The few that I've presented on this blog are just so. A-05, so-called haunted launch facility is a prime example. To this day no one knows where this story originated from.

    The dead stick landing of the F-4 is interesting. I have in the past talked to a few F-4 pilots and one of the main complaints was the inability to dead stick the this aircraft. I think that it was done only once (I read this long ago and forget the source). I'm aware that during the Vietnam War era, the weapon system officer (back seater) would actually fly the aircraft from the back seat depending on the pilot allowing it. So the story may have some truth to it.

    1. The USAF Vs Witches story is definitely not about a court case.

      From memory, I don't have a copy of Johns to hand at the moment but I think the aircraft he mentioned in his version of the deadstick landing was an R.E.8, a plane that also had a reputation for being difficult to land.

      In the "Deadstick Landing" ghost story, the man in the backseat is a member of the ground crew (specialising in munitions) being given a quick joyride around the base when the man flying the plane has a massive heart attack during the landing approach (Which has actually happened during commercial flights).

    2. Found the book I mentioned ('Biggles of 266').

      Full quote of W.E Johns version of the "Deadstick Landing".

      "You may have heard the uncanny story of the R.E.8 that came home by itself and made a reasonable landing with pilot and gunner dead in their seats."