In an effort to upgrade its ageing nuclear weapons and accompanying silos, the US Air Force is exploring the possibility of chauffeuring its missiles around in a massive, underground network of tunnels. Driving Miss Daisy, meet the Apocalypse.
Though the idea of nuclear weapons zipping around underfoot may sound mildly horrifying, the mysteriously undefined "trackless" system would presumably be able to keep missiles secure until 2075. Why on Earth would speeding nuclear missiles be safer than their stationary brethren, you ask? Because, in the unfortunate scenario of an atomic holocaust, it's going to be far more difficult to hit a moving target than a stationary one. According to a broad agency announcement from the US Air Force:
The tunnel concept mode operates similar to a subway system but with only a single transporter/launcher and missile dedicated to a given tunnel. The tunnel is long enough to improve survivability but leaving enough room to permit adequate ‘rattle space' in the event of an enemy attack.
But don't start treading lightly yet; this enormous -- and enormously expensive -- undertaking wouldn't be implemented for decades. And this is assuming it is, in fact, ever implemented in the first place. Because the US Air Force is exploring other options, including "transporter erector launchers", which would essentially be gigantic, nuclear-weapon-toting trucks casually chugging all over the US. Problems here include bridges' abilities to handle the massive trucks, the possibility of civilians becoming paralysingly horrified when they're cut off by a nuclear missile on their evening commute, and drunk nuclear truck drivers.
So, in the end, it could turn out that none of these actually come to fruition. But with the constant upkeep these weapons require, we can at least be sure that something will have to be done -- it's all just a matter of what. [Wired]