North Korea launched a missile early Tuesday morning local time that apparently spooked NORAD, which caused more of a stir than government sources are willing to admit. The missile itself appears to have had a different signature than earlier test launches, probably caused by the fact that it appeared to have hit Mach 10, causing the missile to reach a high enough altitude that the hypersonic glide vehicle could have reached the west coast.
As a result, the FAA issued a pair of ground stops for aircraft on the west coast that lasted a total of 17 minutes. NORAD initially denied issuing an alert message before later admitting to it. (Actual ATC ground stop slips pictured)
Now let me tell you that I am part of a hobbyist group that monitors the US radio network that is used to issue messages to nuclear capable units, among other things. Called an EAM (Emergency Action Message) they are encoded, but you still get a sense that something is happening when radio traffic increases. The messages sound like this:
So last night, I was repeatedly awakened as no fewer than 22 EAMs between 2100 and midnight. I wondered what was going on, then discovered the textgroup had been alive with aircraft reports.
Some of the members of the group are HAM radio enthusiasts like myself, others are air traffic controllers, some just radio nerds. Here is what was reported to me:
Two B-1B bombers were scrambled out of Joint base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska, callsigns Javelin 71 and 72. They were accompanied by 4 KC-135 tankers, callsigns Pearl 71, 72, 73, and 74. They were diverted and landed at Misawa AFB in Japan. I don’t think that these were armed with nuclear weapons, both because the B-1B has reportedly had its nuclear capabilities removed, and I doubt Japan wants nuclear weapons stored on its soil.
Note: Reader Wolfgang Gullich posted a comment (see below) that there were never any B-1’s at Elmendorf on the day in question. Don’t know what this means, since the callsigns and flight paths have been verified by flight tracking software.
The B-52 is of course a nuclear capable bomber, but there is no way of knowing if any of the aircraft launched had actual nuclear weapons loaded, but that would be the safe bet. I mean, why draw an unloaded firearm from the holster, right?
The E-6 Mercury is a “doomsday” plane that has the capability to both launch the nation’s land based nuclear missiles and order the Navy’s Trident submarines to launch their weapons. It is staffed by a flag officer (either an Air Force general or Navy Admiral) with access to the country’s nuclear codes, so that they can order a nuclear retaliatory strike in the event that other levels of the command structure are destroyed in an attack. They used to be airborne 24/7, until 1990. Since that time, they are kept on ground alert with the capability of being launched on short notice. The Navy (who owns the aircraft) only bought 16 of these aircraft, so it is a big deal to have two of them airborne at any one time, for any length of time.
The VC-32 is used by the Vice President under the callsign Air Force-2, and by cabinet level officers in the chain of succession using the SAM callsigns.
As I write this on Tuesday afternoon, there is still at least one E-6B over the country. One of them (RUFF01) is currently airborne over Nebraska.
Here is what I think happened:
NORAD detected the missile launch and noted that its speed and maximum altitude fit the profile for a possible CONUS impact. This caused NORAD to issue a ground stop for the west coast, as well as flushing some nuclear capable forces off of ground alert and headed towards Korea, while also getting a Presidential successor and the generals in charge of any possible nuclear response into their airborne command posts.
With this news today, I would also predict that if and when Russia does invade the Ukraine, an invasion of Taiwan by China will happen at the same time. Whenever the US has a weak President, you can count on the leaders of the world to get frisky.
The Russians are trying to scare President Potato into backing down on the Ukraine. The deployment of Russian boomers, the threat of IR missiles, the talk about nukes. This is the essence of saber rattling. They know Biden is a pussy, and they plan on pushing him down and stealing his lunch money.
The problem with this tactic is that Biden is an idiot, and you don’t even know if he is the one actually running things.
There’s no other country other than those making nuclear weapons reaching those high levels” of uranium enrichment
That is because Iran now has a large stockpile of 60% enriched uranium, and is just a short step away from having enough 90% enriched uranium for several nuclear weapons.
Iran has never really hidden the fact that they want nuclear weapons, and will not hesitate to use them on Israel as soon as they acquire them. It is my belief that Iran is merely stalling with all of the talk, talk, talk so that the US won’t do anything until it is too late and Iran has a couple of deliverable weapons.
Proving me to be correct, that potato that we have sitting in the Oval Office reportedly received a briefing by Pentagon leaders on a full set of military options available to ensure that Iran would not be able to produce a nuclear weapon. Of course, they decided to talk instead.
This, in my opinion, is a short sighted and stupid move. If Iran winds up with nuclear weapons, which seems more and more likely each day, they WILL use them. Whether it is against the US or Israel is yet to be seen, but the smart money is on Israel.
Tel Aviv is preoccupied by the fear that an adversary might one day attempt a first strike to destroy its nuclear missiles and strike planes on the ground before they can retaliate. So preoccupied, that they have developed a second strike capability.
Israel does not have a choice but to destroy Iran’s nuclear program, because she cannot live with it. The suggestion that Israel could simply outsource her deterrence to the US, even if the US were led by someone more dependable than the man who called the rout of American forces from Afghanistan “an extraordinary success,” is more than stupid – it is suicidal. This is one of the reasons why countries all over the region are watching the situation with the Ukraine so closely.
It is known that Israel’s 3 Dolphin and 3 Dolphin 2 class submarines are armed with long range cruise missiles that are each capable of delivering a 200 kiloton warhead to targets at least 950 miles away. In fact, Israel has already carried out strikes using submarine launched cruise missiles armed with conventional warheads.
The land based missile is the Jericho, which Israel has a few of. The Jericho 2 and 3 are each capable of striking any target in Iran.
Israel is believed to have somewhere between 65 to 200 or even as many as 400 nuclear warheads. No one really knows for sure. I think Israel likes it that way- they want everyone to know that they HAVE some, but not necessarily how many, what sizes, or what delivery method.
A nuclear armed Iran will almost certainly end in a nuclear exchange. I don’t think that Iran will get a nuke any time soon. Israel has a long history of finding unexpected solutions to problems, and this is a big one.