DoD To Stop Using Floppies For Nuclear Operations

DoD To Stop Using Floppies For Nuclear Operations

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The US Department of Defence (DoD) will finally stop using floppy disks for nuclear operations. You, you read that right. One of the most able, technologically advanced, and financially secure bodies in the world is still using floppies to deal with some of the most deadly weaponry to ever exist, according to a recent US Government Accountability Office (GAO) report.

The DoD isn’t the only federal agency to operate with decades old technology – it’s not even the record holder. That title goes to the Treasury with its 56 year old IT systems. Still, the DoD’s IT system could probably use a few updates itself, with a reported age of 53 years old.

The most vexing part of the report, of course, is that nuclear operations, coordinating intercontinental ballistic missiles, nuclear bombers, and tanker support, still rely “on an IBM Series-1 Computer – a 1970s computing system – and uses eight-inch floppy disks.” One of these can hold 237.25kB of data, or about 15 seconds of audio.

Pentagon spokeswoman Lt Col Valerie Henderson said that “this system remains in use because, in short, it still works,” the BBC reports.

GAO found that the some $61bn a year is spent on maintaining aging technologies – more than three times the investment on modern IT systems. The report does specify plans to update the DoD’s  “data storage solutions, port extension processors, portable terminals and desktop terminals.”

Henderson also said that the DoD plans to “address obsolescence concerns” and that “the floppy drives are scheduled to be replaced with secure digital devices by the end of 2017.”

“Modernisation across the entire Nuclear Command, Control, and Communications enterprise remains ongoing,” she added.