Spanish jet accidentally fires missile above Estonia

Elias Hubbard
August 8, 2018

The Air Force launched a missile search operation on Tuesday evening.

AMRAAM missiles are equipped with a self-destruction mode that should activate in case a similar incident happens, according to the Estonian Defence Forces.

Colonel Riivo Valge, head of the Estonian Air Force, said the warhead was far less damaging than a ground-targeted bomb.

The missile carried explosives of up to 10 kgs and was last located around 40 kms north of Estonia's second city of Tartu, less than 300kms from the Russian border.

"What does this button do?"

Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas said the "startling incident" thankfully had "no human casualties, but is nevertheless extremely regrettable".

Meanwhile, the Estonian authorities chose to ban the Spanish aircraft from taking part in the air policing missions over its territory for a while.

The Spanish jet fired the missile - an advanced medium-range air-to-air missile, or AMRAAM, made by United States defense firm Raytheon - a little before 4 p.m. local time over the village of Pangodi, as it returned from an exercise with another Spanish jet as well as two French Mirage 2000 jets.

After the incident the jets returned to an air base in Siauliai in northern Lithuania where they are based.

"A Spanish Eurofighter based in Lithuania accidentally fired a missile without causing any harm", the ministry said in a statement.

Estonia's Defence also launched an investigation into the incident.

The air-to-air Amraam missile has a range of 100 kilometers and has a built-in self-destruct function, but authorities said it could have hit the ground somewhere without detonating.

Spain led the BAP mission in 2006 and 2016 and augmented it out of Ämari in 2015 and 2017, making this the fifth tour to the Baltics.

The current Spanish deployment is composed of 135 personnel and Eurofighters jets.

Estonia's military says it is looking for the remains of the missile which was sacked during a drill in the airspace of the Baltic country and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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