Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2002/10/31/computer_stuffups_hobble_us_icbm/

Computer stuff-ups hobble US ICBM arsenal

Yanks might have difficulty incinerating the planet

By Thomas C Greene

Posted in Software, 31st October 2002 10:40 GMT

The US Air Force Audit Agency has discovered numerous failures in a computerized maintenance scheme used by nuclear missile bases ironically called the Improved Maintenance Management Program (IMMP), according to a story by the Utah-based Deseret News.

"Of 2,863 computerized records on individual items reviewed, auditors found that 991 had serious problems -- misstating the condition, quantity or location of missile boosters, guidance systems, motor generators and other key equipment," the paper says.

The auditors' report, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), stated that "the erroneous data included: (a) duplicate, missing, and incorrect serial numbers; (b) missing and incorrect part numbers; (c) missing data asset records; (d) incorrect equipment quantities; (e) incorrect equipment locations; and (f) incorrect or missing equipment manufacture and installation dates."

Poor training has been blamed for the shortcomings, and the Air Force Space Command has promised to do a better job of educating its personnel in using the computer system and maintaining its inventory data accurately.

Until this is resolved there will be a significant obstacle if the USA, in the solemn discharge of its international leadership role, should decide to drop the curtain on Planet Earth. The defense contractor responsible for the buggy system was not named, but it will have a lot to answer for if a few microbes escape incineration and manage to start this crazy cycle of life and death all over again. ®