At a time when the United States and Cuba are attempting to normalize relations and re-establish trade, the fact that an inert U.S. Hellfire missile ended up in Cuba in 2014 is raising concerns across the logistics world. The missile was originally sent to Spain to be used in a military exercise, according to The Wall Street Journal, but ended up taking a much longer, unexpected journey.
The missile – which was not armed with explosives, but did contain top-secret avionics – was packed up in Rota, Spain, after the exercises to be returned to Florida. Instead, it began a roundabout, unauthorized trip. According to reports, it was loaded onto a truck belonging to a freight forwarder, which released the missile to another shipping firm that was supposed to put it on a flight from Madrid to Frankfurt, where it would be placed on the Florida-bound flight.
Officials loading the first flight noticed that the missile was missing and not among the cargo. They realized that, for reasons as yet unknown, it had been placed on a truck operated by Air France, which took the missile to Paris Charles de Gaulle. There, it was loaded onto a mixed pallet of cargo, placed on an Air France flight and it was off to Cuba. Apparently, when the plane landed in Cuba, a local official spotted it and seized it. In June 2014, Lockheed Martin officials realized it was missing and notified the State Department. The missile is still in Cuba, and the U.S. is trying to get it back.
Although it’s inert, Peter Singer, a senior fellow at New America Foundation, said it is likely some foreign nations would like to reverse-engineer parts of the Hellfire and reconstruct the technology. Although the U.S. and Cuba are working out their differences, officials are concerned that Cuba might share the technology with rogue governments like North Korea. Hellfires are air-to-ground missiles, which are often fired from helicopters or Predator drones.
The Department of Justice is looking into the incident to determine whether or not the misdirection of the missile was a crime.
By Air Cargo World | January 12, 2016 | Linda Ball
News Link: http://aircargoworld.com/missile-mishap-innocent-mistake-or-intentional-act/