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Inoperative Cold War-era nuclear missile found in Washington state garage

Police in Bellevue, Washington, recently received an unusual call to examine an artifact in a resident’s garage. It turned out to be a rusty Cold War-era missile designed to carry a nuclear warhead.


The reason was a call from a local resident to the Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio. He offered to donate to them an object that previously belonged to his late neighbor. The museum notified Bellevue police, who sent a mine clearance team to inspect the missile.

As police spokesman Seth Tyler said, the owner of the garage “did not expect a call from us, but kindly allowed us to examine the find.” Experts concluded that the object was safe – it was a non-functional Douglas AIR-2 Genie air-to-air missile, designed to carry a nuclear warhead.

The missile had no warhead and no fuel, so it posed no danger. According to Tyler, it was just a piece of rusty metal.

However, during the Cold War, the AIR-2 Genie was part of a dangerous class of nuclear weapons. Developed in 1957, it carried a 1.5-kiloton charge and was the first air-to-air missile with a nuclear warhead.


The Genie was intended to intercept Soviet bombers, “a major military mission of the late 1940s and 1950s,” according to the U.S. Air Force Museum Foundation. The only test launch of a live rocket took place in 1957 over Nevada. And until 1962, a total of about 3,000 AIR-2 Genie missiles were produced.

The military did not request the return of the find. And since the rocket is safe, it will be restored and placed in a museum exhibition.

Bellevue is used to receiving calls about munitions because of its proximity to a military base, but the Cold War-era missile is a real rarity, police said.


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