Estonia’s military says it is searching for the remains of a missile that a Spanish fighter jet accidentally fired while drilling in the airspace of the Baltic country and NATO ally.
Estonia’s military said that the weapon the from the Spanish Air Force – part of NATO’s Baltic air-policing mission – erroneously launched an AMRAAM-type air-to-air missile in a practice area in southern Estonia Tuesday afternoon.
The missile carried explosives of up to 10 kilograms (22 pounds) and was last located around 40 kilometers (24 miles) north of Estonia’s second city of Tartu
It has a built-in self-destruct for such accidents but may have landed on the ground.
Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas said on Facebook that there were “thank God no human casualties,” calling the incident “extremely regrettable.”
“I am sure that the Estonian defense forces will, in cooperation with our allies, identify all the circumstances of the case and make every effort to make sure that nothing like this happens again,” he added.
Spain’s defense ministry said Tuesday it has opened an investigation into the incident which during a routine training mission.
“A Spanish Eurofighter based in Lithuania accidentally fired a missile without causing any harm,” the ministry said in a statement.
“The air-to-air missile has not hit any aircraft. The defense ministry has opened an investigation to clarify the exact cause of the incident,” it added.
The Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania have no fighter jets of their own, making them reliant on other NATO partners for air security. Estonia Airforce Chief said this was the first time such an incident had been reported.
Two Spanish Eurofighter jets and two French Mirage 2000 jets were taking part in the training exercise, the ministry said.
Reports from (DPA and AFP)