Spanish fighter jet accidentally fires missile over Estonia

NATO fighter jet ‘accidentally’ fires live missile near Russian border

Estonia's military says it is looking for the remains of a missile a Spanish fighter jet accidentally fired while conducting drills in the air space of the Baltic NATO ally.

It added that the air-to-air missile did not cause damage and was created to self-destruct.

A group of two Spanish Eurofighter Typhoon 2000 jets and two French Mirage 2000 jets were taking part in a training exercise over southwestern Estonia on Tuesday when one of the Spanish planes accidentally launched an air-to-air missile, the Spanish Defense Ministry said in a statement, adding that the projectile "did not hit any aircraft".

Colonel Riivo Valge, head of the Estonian Air Force, said the warhead was far less damaging than a ground-targeted bomb.

The missile was reportedly carrying up to 10kg (22lb) of explosives and is thought to have landed 24 miles (40km) north of the Estonian city of Tartu.

AMRAAM missiles are equipped with a self-destruction mode that should activate in case a similar incident happens, according to the Estonian Defence Forces.

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Spanish Typhoon jets regularly patrol the skies above Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia as part of NATO's Baltic Air Policing mission.

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.

Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas said on Facebook, "Thank God no human casualties", calling the incident "extremely regrettable".

Ratas and Stoltenberg also discussed the results of July's Brussels Summit and agreed that increasing the alliance's defense expenditures is important.

The AMRAAM air-to-air missile is the world's most sophisticated air dominance weapon. Spanish jets have done five of the three-month air-policing tours, leading them in 2006 and 2016 and taking part in 2015 and 2017. It began on May 1 and will conclude on August 31.

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