US military no longer uses floppy disks to coordinate nuclear strikes

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The US military no longer uses floppy disks to launch nuclear weapons. Until recently, the Air Force used 8″ floppy disks to coordinate nuclear attacks. The Americans have now switched to solid state storage.

Until recently, the US military uses 8″ floppy disks in an IBM system from the 1970s when launching nukes, c4isrnet writes. “You can’t hack things that don’t have an IP address,” Jason Rossi said. , commander of the United States Air Force’s 595th Strategic Communications Squadron at c4isrnet.

In 2016, the U.S. military indicated that it would replace the old IBM system before the end of 2017 and make upgrades to its data storage system, port expansion processors, portable terminals, and desktop terminals. It is unclear whether this project has been completed, but the US Air Force does indicate that the speed and connectivity of the SACCs has improved. This includes an upgrade to solid state storage.

Despite the age of the system, the Air Force is convinced that it is safe and that the system has been well maintained. At the same time, installing a new system is not easy, as the military has to make sure that an enemy cannot hack such a system and thus gain access to the US’s operational nuclear weapons. The system must also be reliable, and must be able to perform its task at all times when necessary, an employee of the Air Force’s scientific advisory body tells Defense One.

Although the hardware is old, sacss software is constantly being improved by young Air Force programmers. That’s boring work, according to Travis Menard, the head of the programming section of the 595th SCS. To keep staff engaged, the Air Force regularly sends its most promising programmers to software development hubs in, say, Boston or Los Angeles.

Still, the old system has some snags. It takes a lot of manpower to keep saccs operational, but many of the new recruits are young and inexperienced. They are trained as IT specialists and can therefore mainly manage modern systems. The saccs is old, and requires different knowledge; such as soldering metal. There are older employees who know the printed circuit boards, diodes and resistors by heart. They’ve been working with saccs for so long that they can diagnose problems with just an error code. That expertise is difficult to replace. “It’s not sexy work. It’s soldering irons and miniature microscopes,” said Jason Rossi.

Photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher Ruano through the Defense Logistics Agency

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