US military retires floppy disks used by nuclear weapons system

The storage setup of an Air Force command and control system finally shakes off the '70s.

Shelby Brown Editor II
Shelby Brown (she/her/hers) is an editor for CNET's services team. She covers tips and tricks for apps, operating systems and devices, as well as mobile gaming and Apple Arcade news. Shelby also oversees Tech Tips coverage. Before joining CNET, she covered app news for Download.com and served as a freelancer for Louisville.com.
  • She received the Renau Writing Scholarship in 2016 from the University of Louisville's communication department.
Shelby Brown
Mandel Ngan/Getty Images

The US Air Force has finally retired the 8-inch floppy disks that could be used in the launching of nuclear missiles from silos around the country, according to a Thursday report from defense site C4isrnet. The archaic Strategic Automated Command and Control System switched its storage component from the floppy disks to a "highly-secure solid state digital storage solution" in June, the report said, quoting Lt. Col. Jason Rossi, commander of the Air Force's 595th Strategic Communications Squadron. 

A 60 Minutes tour of the US nuclear control center in 2014 gave the public a glimpse behind the curtain of how the defense sector works. It also revealed that in the event that the US president ordered the launch of a nuclear warhead, the command would rely on 8-inch floppy disks and a 1970s era IBM Series/1 mainframe computer.

Rossi told C4isrnet that though the overall computer system is old, its age provides security.

"You can't hack something that doesn't have an IP address. It's a very unique system -- it is old and it is very good," Rossi told the publication. 

The Air Force is reportedly seeking a replacement for the SACCS system but hasn't revealed much more information. Rossi told C4isrnet that enhancements were made recently to better enable speed and connectivity. 

The Air Force didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Watch this: Watch lasers blast explosives