A B-52 bomber flew the length of the United States last week mistakenly loaded with as many as six nuclear armed cruise missiles, a US military official confirmed on Wednesday.
The mix-up was reported to President George W Bush after the nuclear warheads were discovered when the aircraft landed at Barksdale Air Force Base Louisiana, the official said.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said as many as six cruise missiles loaded on to the plane were found to have nuclear warheads on them by mitake.
The B-52 was flying from Minot Air Base in North Dakot.
The incident was first reported by
newspapers, which said the air launched cruise misiles can carry nuclear warheads of five to 150 kilotons.
The official said the discovery was reported to the chaiman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Peter Pace, "and higher."
The official said the notifiation goes as high as the president.
"There are procedures in place and they kicked in and worked," the oficial said.