Spanish Eurofighter accidentally fires missile near Russia border
The Spanish Ministry of Defense announced on August 7, 2018, that one of its Eurofighter Typhoons accidentally fired a live air-to-air missile during a training mission over Estonia. An investigation was opened.
The routine exercise was part of the NATO Air Police in the Baltic mission, established in 2004 to protect Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania airspaces from incursions, as they have no airborne capability of their own. The incident involved two Spanish Eurofighter Typhoons stationed in Šiauliai Air Base, Lithuania and two French Dassault Mirage 2000s stationed in Ämari Air Base, Estonia.
The missile that was fired, an U.S.-made AMRAAM, is supposed to be equipped with a self-destruction system when fired accidentally. However, its wreckage was not retrieved yet and the defense forces organized a search mission.
The missile has a range of 100 km and could be carrying up to 20 kg of high explosives, a smaller amount than a bomb, but still enough to be dangerous to civilians. It was fired 40 km north of the Estonian city of Tartu, and a mere 50 km west of the Russian border.
All air exercises in Estonia were suspended while the authorities try to determine how a live missile can possibly be fired during a training mission, as the launching of an AMRAAM require a procedure that can hardly be performed “by accident”.
“The defense forces alongside with the participants of the air policing mission are investigating the incident and all institutions are doing everything they can to assure public safety," said the Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas in a Facebook post. It is the first event of such nature during NATO Air Police mission.
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