A Spanish Eurofighter jet (Photo: Haiwainet)
A Spanish jet on Tuesday accidentally fired an air-to-air missile flight over southern Estonia during a routine NATO training mission, about 100 kilometers from Russia, the Baltic state’s Defense Forces said.
The Spanish Eurofighter jet, which is part of NATO’s Baltic air-policing mission, was carrying out an exercise with another Spanish Eurofighter and French military aircraft, El Pais reported.
After the accidental fire, the fighter jets returned to an air base in northern Lithuania where they are based. Spain’s defense ministry has begun to investigate the incident.
“A Spanish Eurofighter based in Lithuania accidentally fired a missile without causing any harm and didn’t hit any aircraft,” Spain’s defense ministry said in a statement.
“The air-to air missile is equipped with the self-destruction mechanism which ensures that it is destroyed while in the air in case of an accidental fire. However, the device may have landed on the ground”, the Baltic state’s Defense Forces said in a statement.
“Spanish air force fighter jet fired a missile in Estonian airspace, which was the first time. Such incidents are also rare in other countries,” Riivo Valge, an Estonian Air Force officer, said.
AIM-120 advanced medium-range air-to-air missile (Photo: Haiwainet)
“The missile carries up around 5 to 10 kilograms of explosives and its flight radius is 100 kilometers. The missile was launched at a height of six kilometers. If residents living in southern Estonia find a missile, don’t touch them and notify us immediately,” Valge said.
NATO countries have been taking turns carrying out the protection tasks of the Baltic states’ airspace since April 2004 because the Baltic states do not have aircraft suitable for air patrol missions. NATO countries decided to extend this task indefinitely at the 2012 NATO Chicago Summit. These aircraft are stationed at the Lithuania’s Zokniai Airport.