DOCI: DODD 4540.5
TITL: DODD 4540.5 Movement of Nuclear Weapons bay Noncombat Delivery Vehicles,
June 14, 1978, ATSD(AE)
Refs: (a) DoD Directive 4540.3, "Logistic Movement of Nuclear Weapons,"
December 19, 1972 (hereby canceled)
(b) DoD Instruction 4540.4, "Safety Standards and Procedures for the
Logistic Movement of Nuclear Weapons," December 20, 1972 (hereby canceled)
(c) through (e) (sea enclosure 1)
1. Establishes the policy and criteria for the movement off nuclear
weapons and nuclear components, except Limited Life Components (LLCs), by
noncombat delivery vehicles and the minimum safety standards required
during such movement.
2. Assigns responsibility for the publication of joint manuals prescribing
(a) uniform standards and criteria for inspections prior to nuclear weapon
movement missions; and (b) nuclear weapon custody and accountability
3. Incorporates current procedures of references (a) and (b), which are
B. APPLICABILITY AND SCOPE
1. The provisions of this directive apply to the Office of the Secretary
of Defense, the Military Departments, the Organization of the Joint Chief
s of Staff, the Unified and Specified Commands, and to the Defense
Agencies (referred to as "DoD Components") supporting or having
responsibility for the movement of nuclear weapons.
2. If there are differences between the minimum standards and criteria set
forth here and those in other approved issuances, the more stringent
standards and criteria shall apply.
3. This Directive does not abrogate or abridge the authority or
responsibility of a commander to deviate in an emergency from the policies
and criteria established here; however, this provision does not apply to
the requirement for maintaining U.S. custody of U.S. nuclear weapons and
Terms used in this directive are defined in enclosure 2.
D. POLICY AND PROCEDURES
1. Nuclear weapons require special protection because of their military
importance, their destructive power, their cost, and the consequences of
an unauthorized or accidental nuclear or high-explosive detonation. They
must be protected against the risks and threats inherent in their
environment; and must not be subjected to adverse environments, except
when such exposure is dictated by operational requirements. The
conservation of nuclear weapons as a national resource and the safety of
the public, operating personnel, and property are of paramount importance
during movement of nuclear weapons.
2. Detailed security requirements for logistic movement of nuclear weapons
and nuclear components are contained in DoD Directive 5210.41 (reference
(c)) and DoD Manual 5210.41-M (reference (d)).
3. The criteria for the movement of nuclear weapons and nuclear components
by noncombat delivery vehicles are set forth in enclosure 3.
4. Minimum safety standards for the movement of nuclear weapons and
nuclear components are set forth in enclosure 4.
5. When units have a movement mission, inspections or staff visits
scheduled by the unified and specified commands, the Military Departments,
or the Defense Nuclear Agency will include the inspection or review of
systems, plans, and procedures for the movement of nuclear weapons. (See
In coordination with the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense (Atomic
Energy), the Joint Chiefs of Staff shall develop, coordinate, publish, and
1. A manual prescribing uniform standards and criteria for the inspections
described in section D.5.
2. A manual specifying procedures for nuclear weapon custody and
accountability. (See section D., enclosure 3.)
F. EFFECTIVE DATE AND IMPLEMENTATION
This Directive is effective immediately. Forward one copy of each
implementing document to the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense (Atomic
Energy) within 90 days.
C. W. DUNCAN, Jr. Enclosures - 4 Deputy Secretary of Defense 1. References
2. Definitions 3. Criteria 4. Safety Standards
(c) DoD Directive 5210.41, "Security Criteria and Standards for
Protecting Nuclear Weapons," September 10, 1976
(d) DoD Manual 5210.41-M, "Nuclear Weapon Security Manual," May 1, 1977
(e) DoD Directive 5030.15, "Safety Studies and Reviews of Nuclear Weapons
Systems," August 8, 1974
A. Nuclear Weapon Movement. The transport of nuclear weapons by any
appropriate noncombat delivery vehicle.
1. Logistic Movement. All movement of nuclear weapons and nuclear
components by a noncombat vehicle, from the secure environment of a
storage/alert area, not conducted in response to an increased readiness
condition or wartime emergency plans.
2. Tactical Movement. That movement of nuclear weapons or nuclear
components made to support emergency plans or an alert posture during an
increased readiness condition which authorizes a unit to remove nuclear
weapons from their storage configuration in preparation for deployment to
B. Noncombat delivery Vehicle. Any vehicle used for the movement of
nuclear weapons, but not subject to the specific nuclear safety rules
approved by the Secretary of Defense in accordance with DoD Directive
5030. 15 (reference
C. Logistic System. The organizations, vehicles, and support equipment
employed for the loading, movement, and transfer of nuclear weapons and
nuclear components (except LLCs), explicitly excluding nuclear-capable
combat delivery vehicles.
D. Heavily Populated Area. Any urban/industrial area whose size would
preclude aircraft in an emergency frog reaching a suitable emergency
landing area from any position enroute at the altitudes being flown by the
E. Safety Certification of Equipment and Procedures. A determination by
the applicable Military Departments that equipment and/or procedures meet
required nuclear safety criteria and are approved for use with a nuclear
CRITERIA FOR MOVEMENT OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS AND NUCLEAR COMPONENTS
A. Movement of nuclear weapons shall be kept to the minimum cons is tent
with operational requirements and shall conform with the policies and
guidance set forth here.
B. Nuclear weapons shall be moved by the safest and most secure means and
over the safest and most secure routes.
1. Military air transport is the preferred mode for logistic movement of
nuclear weapons between storage locations. Such movement shall be
conducted utilizing U.S. military transport aircraft, including
2. Normally, waterborne movement of nuclear weapons shall be on U.S. Navy
ships or craft or U.S. national civil-service-manned ships of the Military
Sealift Command (MSC), equipped for the purpose. If necessary to meet
urgent operational or emergency evacuation requirements, the commander of
the appropriate unified or specified command may authorize the use of
other U.S. military or U.S. manned MSC ships to transport weapons under
U.S. military custody. At ports, nuclear weapons shall be loaded and
unloaded only through military terminal facilities.
3. Interbase rail shipments of nuclear weapons are one of the least
desirable modes of logistic movement and shall not be made unless the
commander of the appropriate unified or specified command determines that
an urgent operational requirement justifies such a movement. U.S. military
custody is required for all rail shipments.
4. Motor vehicles may be used for the logistic movement of nuclear weapons
when the head of a DoD Component or a unified or specified commander
determines their use to be safer or more practical than use of U.S.
military aircraft. This determination must be in writing, and the
authority to so determine may not be delegated. In such cases, U.S.
military custody shall be maintained at all times.
C. Programming and siting criteria for nuclear weapon units shall include a
review of proposed plans to assure that the movement of nuclear weapons to
and from the units can be accomplished safely and that the vulnerability
of the weapons to security and espionage threats is minimized. In
addition, commanders shall periodically review movement plans and
procedures in conjunction with current intelligence data and threat
analyses to ascertain that weapon movement security and safety standards
are being met.
D. Procedures for transfer of custody of nuclear weapons, including a
courier receipt system, shall be developed and included in a joint
publication to standardize custody transfer procedures between all
elements within the Department of Defense and, as far as possible, to
align them with those used jointly by the Department of Defense and
Department of Energy. Minimum documentation shall be used for the purpose
of property accountability, custody receipting, and shipping transactions.
E. The criteria and standards prescribed for logistic movement of nuclear
weapons and nuclear components will be adhered to when actual weapons are
moved during exercises and under simulated tactical conditions.
A. Each DoD Component shall develop and implement detailed standards and
procedures appropriate to its nuclear weapon movement operations. As a
minimum, the following standards and procedures shall apply:
1. The DoD Component shall provide essential information about the mission
and the cargo being carried to personnel participating in movement
2. Each member of a movement mission shall know his specific duties and
responsibilities, including those relative to the safety and security of
the cargo, and procedures established to cope with enroute emergencies,
such as accidents, incidents, and attempted hijacking.
3. U.S. and non-U.S., noncombat delivery vehicle support equipment and
procedures shall receive a safety certification prior to being authorized
for nuclear weapons handling operations. Safety certification criteria and
procedures shall be developed by the Military Departments.
4. A safety certification of loading and tiedown procedures for nuclear
weapons on all noncombat delivery vehicles used for movement of nuclear
weapons shall be required. These procedures and the safety certification
shall be completed prior to the use of the vehicles for nuclear weapon
5. Safety standards shall be specified and adhered to for those vehicles
and ancillary equipment used for the movement of nuclear weapons.
Maintenance authorized on vehicles and ancillary equipment during
transport of nuclear weapons shall be specified.
6. During any movement of a nuclear weapon where the weapon is removed
from the direct control of the assigned custodian, the responsible
commander shall assign and designate in writing a courier, who shall be
responsible for custody, safety, and security during the movement. For
logistic movements, the designated courier shall be a commissioned officer
or warrant officer.
7. All vehicles and craft to be loaded shall be searched and sanitized by
removing all hazardous materials and all personnel not essential to the
mission, and entry controls shall be established.
8. Except for momentary stops, an exclusion area will be established around
weapons carriers during all stops.
B. In addition to provisions of section A., this enclosure, the following
standards for movement of weapons by U.S. transport aircraft (including
helicopters) shall apply:
1. In order to maintain the high proficiency and professionalism needed in
safe and secure airlift movements, the number of different aircrews,
couriers, and guards shall be kept to the minimum necessary for effective
2. DoD Component mission planning, crew briefing and enroute procedures
shall ensure that:
a. Concerned organizations at enroute and destination bases are informed
of the estimated time of arrival, the nature of the cargo aboard, and the
requirements for priority ground servicing, maintenance, and airspace
b. Destination bases and any bases anticipated for use enroute have
adequate holding areas and properly certified support equipment, as
c. Minimum essential firefighting equipment and communications facilities
are specified and available for loading and unloading operations.
d. Inflight and ground security standards are prescribed, and met by
aircrews, prior to obtaining local security support for the aircraft and
e. National Guard and Reserve aircrews are not used for logistic movement
of nuclear weapons without the specific prior approval of the Secretary of
Defense. In such cases, U.S. military custody is required.
f. Logistic movement aircraft carrying nuclear weapons are prohibited from
approaching within an unsafe distance of unfriendly borders. In addition,
positive measures shall be developed to prevent overflight of or landing
in an unfriendly territory or in countries where these actions are
prohibited. The terms "unfriendly border," "unsafe distance" and
"unfriendly territory" shall be defined in coordination with the Military
Departments and shall be set forth in the U.S. Air Force Special Weapons
Overflight Guide (SWOG). The SWOG shall be applicable to all elements of
the Department of Defense. The U.S. Air Force shall keep the SWOG current,
coordinate changes, and make it available to other DoD Components, as
g. Any aircraft transporting nuclear weapons avoids over-flight of heavily
populated areas whenever possible. Approaches, landings, or take-off
tracks are excluded from this limitation.
h. Aircrews are knowledgeable of special weather limitations and hazards
to be avoided for nuclear weapon movements.
i. The minimum essential number of qualified aircrew members is specified,
and must be available, for the type of aircraft and movement mission to be
performed (e.g., within CONUS, from CONUS to overseas, in proximity of
unfriendly borders, etc.).
j. Minimum essential navigation and communication equipment in the
aircraft and enroute is specified, available, and operable or the flight
k. Loading and unloading crews use standard procedures established for
aircraft loading and unloading operations. The procedures shall include
instructions for mixed loads consisting of nuclear weapons/nuclear
components and nonnuclear compatible opportune cargo. Aircraft shall be
loaded in a manner to permit offload or inflight jettison of opportune
cargo without special movement or shifting of nuclear weapons. Nuclear
weapons and major assemblies shall be jettisoned from transporting
aircraft only in accordance with the provisions of the SWOG.
3. Aircraft cargo space is used to the fullest extent consistent with
safety and security requirements of the nuclear weapon/component cargo. To
the extent practicable and within allowable safety limits, nuclear
weapon/component shipments shall be combined and, when space is available,
compatible opportune cargo shall be carried. However, no additional
landings with nuclear weapons aboard shall be required for the purpose of
airlifting opportune cargo on nuclear weapon movement missions.
C. In addition to the requirements of section A, this enclosure, DoD
Components shall develop and implement procedures for the movement of
nuclear weapons by motor vehicle to assure that:
1. Concerned organizations at the destination are aware of the estimated
time of arrival and the nature of the cargo.
2. Adequate and properly certified handling/support equipment is available
at the destination.
3. Adequate firefighting equipment is prescribed and available throughout
the weapon movement operation.
4. Security support is obtained for the nuclear weapon cargo at enroute
stops and additional security support enroute, if required.
5. In addition to the driver, an armed escort rides in the cab of each
motor vehicle carrying or towing a nuclear weapon. Such a vehicle, or
convoy of vehicles, shall be preceded and followed by at least one
security vehicle. Each security vehicle shall carry at least one armed
guard in addition to the driver.
6. Movement routes are swept by a radio-equipped vehicle sufficiently in
advance of the weapon convoy to decrease the possibility of involvement
with traffic obstructions, civil disturbances, or other hazards to safe
7. During logistic movements, communications requirements are established
to provide intra-convoy voice radio communications between all vehicles of
the convoy, and between the convoy and a central control center.
D. Safety training for personnel involved in movement operations,
including aircrew and ship crew members, couriers, handling personnel,
guards and vehicle drivers, shall be adequate to assure knowledge of their
responsibilities and proficiency in the procedures and practices necessary
for safe and secure movement missions. Training requirements for logistic
movement personnel shall include both formal instruction and practical
experience. The Military Departments shall provide for the designation,
training, and certification of proficiency of all personnel prior to their
being assigned duties on nuclear weapon/component logistic movement
missions. Additional personnel may accompany logistic movements for
training purposes prior to proficiency certification.