Go Back  PPRuNe Forums > Aircrew Forums > Military Aviation
Reload this Page >

1966: That Time A QRA Mirage IVA Took Off With A Live Nuke

Military Aviation A forum for the professionals who fly military hardware. Also for the backroom boys and girls who support the flying and maintain the equipment, and without whom nothing would ever leave the ground. All armies, navies and air forces of the world equally welcome here.

1966: That Time A QRA Mirage IVA Took Off With A Live Nuke

Old 17th Sep 2020, 14:31
  #1 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Surrey, UK
Posts: 865
1966: That Time A QRA Mirage IVA Took Off With A Live Nuke

Reading coverage of the French air force's nuclear exercise (Poker) at the moment I came across this:

https://www.lopinion.fr/blog/secret-...ualise-3-25009

In 1966, the AdlA had a serious incident with the Mirage IV QRA based in Orange. A split-flap indicator board - like the classic airport/railway station ones - was used to display alert states via some sort of landline from the HQ in Taverny. Due to a lightning strike, the board clattered round to display "DG" in black on red on one dispersal only, the equivalent of "Scramble QRA", and the crew responded. Their C3 procedures required them to respond immediately to the board and to only accept ad hoc orders from senior officers on site after completing a special authentication. As a result, they ignored efforts by the squadron commander and ops officer to stand them down, took off and escaped from the vicinity of the base, before heading for their tanker bracket over the Alps. Various VSOs called up on the radio but they were also ignored as standing orders required radio silence at this point. However, the AdlA operated a similar positive control protocol to that used in the V-Force - on reaching the bracket the a/c was meant to call in to get positive confirmation of the strike order, and failing that, RTB. As a result the jet returned safely after either burning off or dumping fuel.

A couple of interesting things - their SOPs seem quite similar to British ones notably the centralized telebrief-like C2, the requirement to treat ad-hoc orders with suspicion (this comes up in several stories in the various V-threads here), and the positive control procedure. In other ways they weren't - note the indicator board rather than the voice of the Bomber Controller. Apparently de Gaulle was unexpectedly pleased as the crew had responded without hesitation and had followed the SOP strictly in not listening to someone randomly waving his hands on the taxiway or begging them to stop on the radio.

Of course France had some very good reasons to worry about a senior officer turning up and trying to give direct orders to the aircrew - this was only 3 years after the 1962 coup attempt in Algiers.
steamchicken is offline  
Old 17th Sep 2020, 16:24
  #2 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Often in Jersey, but mainly in the past.
Age: 77
Posts: 7,043
Ah, memories in Waddo Tower of “This is the Bomber Controller, <redacted blah blah blah>“ coming from the ‘Bomber Box’.

I had an NCO controller who was, for some strange reason, incapable of repeating (on Local frequency) the messages verbatim, despite his Assistant passing him a chinagraph plaque with the standard full wording and the relevant codes written on it. Fortunately the crews took more cognisance of what they received via ‘other means’.
MPN11 is offline  
Old 17th Sep 2020, 16:46
  #3 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Surrey, UK
Posts: 865
After the event the French changed their C3 arrangements to require receiving the message on both the indicator board and the back-up system.
steamchicken is offline  
Old 17th Sep 2020, 17:02
  #4 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: UK
Age: 81
Posts: 3,758
I remember an old friend (sadly no longer with us) telling me a story about being at a Norwegian base in the middle of a NATO exercise (with a Canberra) when a French Air Force Mirage IV did an emergency landing, very short of fuel having become unsure of his position.

In the bar later, the captain was given the title "To Lose Le Track".
JW411 is offline  
Old 17th Sep 2020, 18:09
  #5 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: England
Posts: 951
Fortunate to watch a 'live' scramble when visiting one of 'those bases' (1970/71). The whole base went into immediate lockdown - hooters everywhere; our hosts with some embarrassment asked us look the other way, but did not object to a grandstand view together with their proud commentary.

What was surprising was that the tanker was airborne before the bombers - by a few seconds - with better than air defence QRA reaction times.

The overall impression was of a very professional and effective force; and nothing to suggest that the two aircraft were not 'live'.
PEI_3721 is offline  
Old 17th Sep 2020, 19:54
  #6 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Apr 2020
Location: Rhones-Alpes
Posts: 419
Originally Posted by steamchicken View Post
. Due to a lightning strike, the board clattered round to display "DG" in black on red on one dispersal only, the equivalent of "Scramble QRA", .
Do you mean "atmospheric electricity " or, Pierre saying to Claude " That's it, I've had enough. I'm bloody well out of here now" ?
Tartiflette Fan is online now  
Old 17th Sep 2020, 21:32
  #7 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Surrey, UK
Posts: 865
Originally Posted by Tartiflette Fan View Post
Do you mean "atmospheric electricity " or, Pierre saying to Claude " That's it, I've had enough. I'm bloody well out of here now" ?
A thunderstorm (un orage) although the c3 protocol may have been designed with the possibility that someone might waver at the last minute in mind.
steamchicken is offline  
Old 18th Sep 2020, 04:17
  #8 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Under Capricorn
Posts: 73
Originally Posted by MPN11 View Post
Ah, memories in Waddo Tower of “This is the Bomber Controller, <redacted blah blah blah>“ coming from the ‘Bomber Box’.

I had an NCO controller who was, for some strange reason, incapable of repeating (on Local frequency) the messages verbatim, despite his Assistant passing him a chinagraph plaque with the standard full wording and the relevant codes written on it. Fortunately the crews took more cognisance of what they received via ‘other means’.
Ah, the halcyon days at RNAS Lossiemouth (as it then was) in the late 1960s under the command of Captain Eric 'Winkle' Brown, with said black box in the Tower VCP from which emerged a voice reminiscent of Alvar Liddell!

Last edited by Willi B; 18th Sep 2020 at 04:29.
Willi B is offline  
Old 18th Sep 2020, 08:16
  #9 (permalink)  
Gnome de PPRuNe
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Too close to Croydon for comfort
Age: 58
Posts: 10,061
Originally Posted by JW411 View Post
I remember an old friend (sadly no longer with us) telling me a story about being at a Norwegian base in the middle of a NATO exercise (with a Canberra) when a French Air Force Mirage IV did an emergency landing, very short of fuel having become unsure of his position.

In the bar later, the captain was given the title "To Lose Le Track".
I must have been in need of a laugh as that left me giggling, to the consternation of other people enjoying a coffee...
treadigraph is online now  
Old 18th Sep 2020, 14:37
  #10 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: There and here
Posts: 2,535
I like a good pun and "To lose le track" is a sublime classic, especially as it was conjured in the moments of it happening. As an aside, I always found the Mirage IV to be both beautiful and very menacing in equal parts.
SpringHeeledJack is offline  
Old 18th Sep 2020, 19:30
  #11 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: UK
Posts: 1,134
An interesting thread, but this source portrays the incident in a slightly different light :

Beyond those incidents, a story suggests that a pilot of the Forces aériennes stratégiques took off with nuclear weapons under his wings thinking he had received an order to go when actually that was not the case.
https://nautilus.org/napsnet/napsnet...ommunications/

The source also provides some very interesting (some might say disturbing) information regarding French release authentication systems.

YS
Yellow Sun is online now  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright © 2021 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.