A Spanish Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon combat aircraft accidentally fired a live air-to-air missile (AAM) over Estonian territory on August 7.
The missile, reportedly an AIM-120 AMRAAM, was fired from the Spanish jet at 15.44 EEST while it was flying over Pangodi in Tartu County. The missile’s direction was north and its exact trajectory, location and fate is unknown. Currently, there are no reports of injuries or damage.
Estonian Defence Forces (EDF) said that the stray missile likely had an inbuilt self-destruction system that causes it to explode mid-air in the event of an accidental launch but added that the missile may have hit the ground.
The last assumed location of the missile is roughly 40km (25 miles) north of Tartu, around 50km (31 miles) from the Russian border town of Chudskaya Rudnitsato the east. The authorities have restricted access to the area.
The Estonian Air Force launched a missile search operation involving helicopters in the area on Tuesday evening. The Estonian Defence Forces (EDF) has asked anyone who notices something that resembles a missile on the ground to move away from it and immediately inform the Air Force. The EDF are also asking people not to go looking for the weapon on their own.
The Spanish Eurofighter Typhoon 2000, part of NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission, safely landed at its base in Šiauliai in Lithuania. NATO is yet to comment on the incident.
AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) is a modern beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) capable of all-weather day-and-night operations. AMRAAM missile is 3.7 m long and 18 cm in diameter, and has an operational range of 100 km.
The Baltic Air Policing mission that was established in 2004 to assist Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania who have no airborne air defence capability of their own. The aim of the mission is to prevent unauthorised incursion into the airspace of the Baltic states and its most frequent duty is intercepting Russian aircraft and escorting them from the area. The allied jets are based in Šiauliai and Estonia’s Ämari Air Base on a rotational basis. Currently, four French jets are based in Ämari and four Spanish jets in Šiauliai.