Monday, April 20, 2009

Thule: Welcome To The Top Of The World

This is another really interesting article from Closing Velocity. It's also very coincidental because I just watched Dr. Strangelove on my computer about 2 weeks ago.

I was familiar with the term broken arrow, but was unaware there was still 1 bomb still unaccounted for. That by itself can make you go hmmmm... .

Closing Velocity has some great videos and the articles he writes will keep you up to date on many of our current and future defense systems.

from Closing Velocity
by John McKittrick
April 20, 2009

Great article in the Daily Mail on one of the unsung sentinels of US missile defense, the early warning radar at Thule Air Base, Greenland:

As we drive on, a disturbing buzzing and popping starts to come from the engine. The controls on the dashboard join in and the vehicle begins to judder. Our journey into this empty wasteland is starting to feel like an episode of The X Files.

'It's the radar,' she explains, pointing ahead of us, not very reassuringly. 'It does strange things to the electrics.'

I politely ask what the radar is likely to do to my insides.

'Best not to jump in front of it,' she warns.

When we reach the summit, there it is, standing guard - one of the most important and advanced pieces of American military hardware in the world, a Ballistic Missile Early Warning System (BMEWS) radar. The size of a ten-storey building and glaringly hi-tech, the radar stands perched like a silent sentinel scanning the skies for anything coming over the top of the world.

Until its recent prominence as a critical part of our budding global missile defense system, Thule was best known as the site of one of the few "Broken Arrow" crises during the Cold War.

During the sixties, the US had an operational plan "Chrome Dome" whereby a dozen nuclear-armed B-52s were always on airborne alert to counter any Soviet first strike. Though unnamed, Chrome Dome is the central plot device in Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove:

One of the underlying missions of Chrome Dome was "Hard Head" patrols over Thule, where one of these special B-52s would maintain visual contact with the airbase and its crucial radar. If the crew lost contact or saw a mushroom cloud over Thule, then they would proceed to attack the USSR with their nuclear package.

On January 21, 1968, one of these B-52s crashed on the frozen sea ice off Thule, scattering its four H-bombs. And one hydrogen bomb remains unaccounted for.

After the Thule accident, Chrome Dome was terminated.

So Thule has evolved from its Cold War roots. Once a guardian against --- and sacrificial tripwire for --- Mutually Assured Destruction, it is now on watch for limited ICBM threats from rogue nations.

And to all the chilly Thule airmen and contractors (coincidentally I recently received an email from a Closing Velocity fan up there), a hearty thanks and keep up the good work.

Stay warm...yet frosty.

Here is a glimpse of the Daily Mail article. It goes into great detail about Thule.

The spies at the top of the world...and a new Cold War?

This radar station is so remote that it sees no sunlight for four months of the year. It is also so powerful it could spot a tennis ball in flight 3,000 miles away. Gordon Corera visits America's controversial missile defence system in northern Greenland, where the Cold War never ended.
Click to read the rest of the article and comments

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