Air Force finally retires 8-inch floppies from missile launch control system

Pour one out for the 8-inch floppy, retired from the Air Force after 50 years of service.
Enlarge / Pour one out for the 8-inch floppy, retired from the Air Force after 50 years of service.

CBS News

Five years in the past, a CBS 60 Minutes report publicized a little bit of know-how trivia many within the protection neighborhood had been conscious of: the truth that eight-inch floppy disks had been nonetheless used to retailer knowledge vital to working the Air Force’s intercontinental ballistic missile command, control, and communications community. The system, as soon as known as the Strategic Air Command Digital Network (SACDIN), relied on IBM Series/1 computer systems put in by the Air Force at Minuteman II missile websites within the 1960s and 1970s.

Those floppy disks have now been retired. Despite the rivalry by the Air Force on the time of the 60 Minutes report that the archaic {hardware} provided a cybersecurity benefit, the service has accomplished an improve to what’s now often called the Strategic Automated Command and Control System (SACCS), as Defense News stories. SAACS is an improve that swaps the floppy disk system for what Lt. Col. Jason Rossi, commander of the Air Force’s 595th Strategic Communications Squadron, described as a “highly secure solid state digital storage solution.” The floppy drives had been absolutely retired in June.

But the IBM Series/1 computer systems stay, partially due to their reliability and safety. And it is not clear whether or not different upgrades to “modernize” the system have been accomplished. Air Force officers have acknowledged community upgrades which have enhanced the velocity and capability of SACCS’ communications techniques, and a Government Accountability Office report in 2016 famous that the Air Force deliberate to “update its data storage solutions, port expansion processors, portable terminals, and desktop terminals by the end of fiscal year 2017.” But it is not clear how a lot of that has been accomplished.

While SACCS is dependable, it’s clearly costly and tough to keep up when it fails. There are not any substitute elements obtainable, so all parts should be repaired—a process which will require hours manipulating elements beneath a microscope. Civilian Air Force workers with years of expertise in electronics repairs deal with nearly all of the work. But the code that runs the system remains to be written by enlisted Air Force programmers.

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