On October 23, 2010, F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming temporarily lost the ability to communicate with 50 of its Minuteman III missiles. The five Missile Alert Facilities responsible for launching those ICBMs—Alpha through Echo, comprising the 319th Strategic Missile Squadron—would have been unable to do so during the period of the disruption.
This dramatic story was leaked to Mark Ambinder, a contributing editor at The Atlantic, which published it three days later. The U.S. Air Force then quickly acknowledged the problem, saying that a back-up launch system could have performed the task and claiming that the breakdown had lasted a mere 59 minutes.
However, the latter statement was untrue, according to two missile technicians stationed at F.E. Warren, who say that the communications issue, while intermittent, actually persisted over several hours.
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