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CLARA MOSCHINI

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Estonia: Spanish Typhoon aircraft "accidental" fires missile

No consequences, but suspended exercises

A Spanish Air Force's Eurofighter Typhoon fighter plane "accidentally" yesterday afternoon fired an air-to-air missile AIM-120 -made by Raytheon and used by all NATO forces and not only- during an exercise flight in the Southeast Estonia. The aircraft took off together with another Spanish Typhoon and two French Mirage 2000 from Siauliai Air Base in northern Lithuania, for a training to be carried out about 100 km from the Russian border when in the vicinity of Tartu a missile was launched. At the moment it hasn't been traced and identified yet.

No doubt the air-to-air missile has't been armed and not even the self-destruction procedure has started, which suggests the defense ministry of Estonia that would have fallen to the ground without exploding, so much so that a team of search by helicopter to be able to recover it. "A deplorable episode for which there is to thank God if there were no victims" was the comment of Prime Minister Juri Ratas on a social network, where he added that "the Estonian armed forces together with the NATO allies will do everything to make sure it does not happen again". The declarations of the head of the Estonian Government followed the suspension of the aerial exercises in Estonia ordered by the Minister of Defense.

An investigation was also opened on the event by the Spanish defense ministry, which will collaborate with the Estonians and the NATO military police to try to clarify the causes of this accident, especially given its proximity to the Russian border. It would be to understand how things actually went because the procedures that lead to the launch of a missile are made of different steps; it is therefore difficult for the pilot to carry out all the steps by mistake. What could have happened as a result of an electrical problem?

M/A - 1213459

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