On June 3, 1980, U.S. Command posts received a warning that the Soviet Union had launched a nuclear strike. It is believed that multiple launch crews for Minuteman missiles were given launch warnings, and bomber crews began manning their aircraft. What was bizarre, however, which clued operators in to it was a false alarm, is that there screens were showing 2, 0, then 200 incoming missiles. It turned out to be a faulty computer chip error which caused the panic, but it solidified the very short amount of time that the President has to make a retaliatory strike decision.
Originally, I filed a FOIA request to multiple agencies, most of which denied documents existed. Then, the Department of Defense, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense, Joint Chiefs of Staff responded that documents may exist at the National Archives.
My request was refiled there, and nearly two years later, I received a small amount of records pertaining to the incident. Another year thereafter, I received a second response from the National Archives, which were the final documents pertaining to this request. Both releases are available below.
They are available below.
False Nuclear Attack Warning: June 3, 1980 – NARA Release #1 – [24 Pages, 5.8MB]
False Nuclear Attack Warning: June 3, 1980 – NARA Release #2 – [14 Pages, 8.9MB]