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Spanish Eurofighter jet accidently launched an air-to-air missile in Estonian air space

08 August 2018

Estonia's Defence Forces (EDF) said the stray AMRAAM type missile should have a self-destruct mode that causes it to explode mid-air in the event of an accidental launch. "(The) missile has built-in self-destruction mode, but it is not ruled out that it has landed".

The Estonian Defense Ministry has launched a search for the missile using helicopters, and emergency services in the area have asked residents who happen upon the missile or parts of it not to approach it.

"What does this button do?"

The AMRAAM air-to-air missile is the world's most sophisticated air dominance weapon. The Spanish Eurofighter detachment comprised of six jets.

Two Spanish Eurofighter jets, and two French Mirage 2000 jets, were taking part in the training exercise in a practice area in Estonia.

Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas said on Facebook that there were "thank God no human casualties", and called the incident "extremely regrettable".

'I am sure that the Estonian defence 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'.

Estonian Defense Minister Jüri Luik suspended all exercises and mock battles in the country's airspace, though the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation air-policing effort would continue as normal.

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

All the jets then safely returned to their Saiuliai air base in Lithuania, the ministry said, adding that it has opened an investigation into the incident.

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. It began on May 1 and will conclude on August 31.

A total number of four Spanish jets have been stationing in Lithuania since 2004, when North Atlantic Treaty Organisation established the Baltic Air Policing to assist Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in their Defence, as the countries have no airborne air defence capability of their own.

Spanish Eurofighter jet accidently launched an air-to-air missile in Estonian air space