I'm considering writing a sequel to my latest short story, in which a massive Russian naval exercise in the Pacific results in a fatal skirmish at sea, which then somehow escalates in a nuclear war (kinda like how Able Archer '83 almost did). I was thinking, wouldn't it be a real kick in the teeth if the war started by accident? The first two targets hit were Vandenberg AFB, CA, and Los Angeles, CA, both by submarine-launched ballistic missiles. I had had an idea that perhaps the US Air Force wanted to deliver a "show of force" to the Russians by doing an unannounced, unscheduled Minuteman III ICBM test from Vandenberg, and that the Russians would mistake this test as the real thing, since no warning was given and tensions are soaring due to the recent naval clash. Thing is, there are no nuclear weapons actually stationed at Vandenberg. Vandenberg is used to test launch ICBMs. So wouldn't the fact that the launch is from Vandenberg be enough for them to tell it's just a test and not a live launch? Or, perhaps another way might work better? - Is it feasible that a test might be launched from a base that actually does station nukes, like FE Warren or Malmstrom? - Could a plane carrying a nuke be shot down and crash near one of the sites and have the weapon detonate, giving the impression of an attack? (similar to what almost happened at Thule AFB?) - Might Russian detection instruments malfunction and falsely detect a US missile launch, causing the VAFB and LA attacks in what they think is retaliation? (like the Petrov incident or the Norwegian rocket incident, but more severe?) - Russian aircraft are notorious for flying blind (no transponders or ID, etc) - could a mid-air collision between a Russian military plane and a civilian craft (or even US military, for that matter) make them believe they are under attack? - Any other ideas?