We’ve all seen movies about bad guys who steal the nuclear codes that allow them to blackmail the US or to nuke various sites. Sometimes the bad guy is a US Sailor or wild eyed General; in other cases, the bad guy managed to beg, borrow or steal a nuke….and only a complicated nuclear code prevents them from nuking Denver (or Baltimore).

Well, now it seems like Hollywood needs to rewrite the movies.

A recent BBC news program reveals that, unlike US or Russian subs, their nuclear submarine commanders can launch the missiles without needing a complicated code.

But the BBC program also revealed that up to ten years ago, bombs on RAF planes could be armed using common tools such as a Allen key, (aka hex key) and a bicycle lock key.

Newsnight reveals that RAF nuclear bombs were armed by opening a panel held by two captive screws – like a battery cover on a radio – using a thumbnail or a coin.
Inside are the arming switch and a series of dials which are turned with an allen key to select high yield or low yield, air burst or ground burst and other parameters.
The bomb is actually armed by inserting a cylindrical bicycle lock key into the arming switch and turning it through 90 degrees.

TheDailyBrief Blog comments:

Opening up the hatch with a coin – then using an allen wrench (for the love of mike) to adjust the darn thing – and then launching with a bicycle key – is a touch worthy of Monty Phython…Yanks would spend billions on a special key system from Boeing. The Brits just ran down to the hardware store one day and called it good.


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket.

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