Live missile flew 80 kilometers

The air-to-air missile launched by the Spanish Air Force fighter over Pangodi, Tartu County, on Tuesday at 15.44 flew over three counties and covered 80 kilometers before falling into a forest in an uninhabited area at Jõeküla, near the Endla nature reserve in Järva County.

The Air Force had not announced the precise flight path of the missile and the site of its impact by yesterday evening, but considering where it was launched and found, the weapon carrying some ten kilograms of explosives crossed the Tallinn-Tartu road over the Kärevere-Puurmani stretch, flew over Jõgeva County and fell in an uninhabited area near Jõeküla in Järva County.

Commander of the Air Force, Colonel Riivo Valge told a news conference yesterday evening that the Defense Forces are 95 percent certain of having found the missile launched by the Spanish fighter. A crater caused by explosion was found in the forest near Jõeküla, but the military had not yet found fragments of the missile at the site by the time of the news press conference.

The Spanish pilot of the Eurofighter understood the seriousness of the situation as soon as the AMRAAM air-to-air missile left his aircraft. “The first idea that something had happened came when the pilot warned his colleagues about his error,” Valge said.

A regular active exercise took place over Pangodi on Tuesday; the NATO air policing units carry out such exercises all the time. Four fighters took part in the exercise – two Spanish Eurofighters and two French Mirages. After the launching of the missile the Spanish pilots were ordered back to the Zokniai air base near Šiauliai, Lithuania, where the Spanish contingent is based.

Information needed to be checked

The Air Force commander said that, due to a misunderstanding, incorrect information has been released according to which he had been first informed about the incident only 1.5 hours after the missile had been launched. Valge explained that the Estonian Air Force had received initial report within minutes, but that the information needed to be checked.

“It took half an hour to verify that the report was correct. Within an hour we informed the police and the Rescue Board. After that it took another half-hour to receive definite confirmation about the launching of the missile. An hour and a half is an estimated time that passed before we began the real recovery operation,” Valge said.

The Air Force radar tracked the mistakenly launched missile, but the data did not allow for determining the precise flight path and impact site of the missile. The Air Force Robinson helicopters and land patrols were used yesterday to look for the missile.

According to the Defense Forces chief of staff, Major General Martin Herem, the army takes the incident seriously and makes its conclusions.

“The Ministry of Defense will form a working group in the next few weeks involving all relevant departments, including the Ministry of Economy and Communications. All air exercise procedures will be reviewed. We shall think about what type of exercises will be carried out later, what will be the participants’ rights and where the exercise areas will be,” Herem said.

The Air Force reported already on Tuesday that an AMRAAM missile had been launched by the Spanish Eurofighter, but the military remain taciturn about its modification and other details. Herem said that the technical details of the missile are confidential and he cannot share them.

Colonel Valge said as well that he would not be able to discuss the specifics of the missile. “The advantage of such weapons today is that they operate on the fire-and-forget principle. Such missiles would not lock on any random targets. To make the missile choose a target, the pilot must first select it.” Valge said. He added that there had been thus no danger of the missile targeting a civilian aircraft.

Cooperation in investigation

The AMRAAM air-to-air missiles which are produced in the USA since 1991 have been improved and developed further several times and there are currently five different modifications. The cost of a missile remains between USD 300,000 and 1.7 million, dependent on the type.

Margarita Robles Fernández, the Minister of Defense of Spain, expressed regret about the missile incident to Estonia’s Minister of Defense Jüri Luik in a telephone conversation yesterday. “We agreed to cooperate closely in the investigation,” Luik said. Both parties emphasized the need for the NATO air policing mission to continue.

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas discussed the incident with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg by telephone yesterday. “I said that this is a serious incident. Thank God that no one was hurt as far as we know,” Ratas said. The prime minister asked Stoltenberg to see that NATO would take the incident very seriously and clarify the details rapidly. Stoltenberg promised to do so.

Read more news of Tallinn on our site.
missileflew AirForce
If you notice an error, highlight the text you want and press Ctrl + Enter to report it to the editor
8 views in november
I recommend
No recommendations yet


Post your comment to communicate and discuss this article.

Trying to keep on top of the movements of the political parties in Estonia can be a bit like herding the proverbial cats at times, particularly now we're in election season. From an "anglophone"* perspective, there are plenty of parties — around nine in all, three in government, three in opposition and three more potentially winning a few seats in March. This compares with three and a half parties in Britain (UKIP is the "half"), outside of Northern Irelan...
The opposition Conservative People's Party of Estonia has in large part decided its top candidates for the March 2019 Riigikogu elections, to be officially confirmed by the party board on Friday. EKRE's top candidate for Harju and Rapla Counties, Estonia's largest electoral district, will be MP Henn Põlluaas. Party chairman Mart Helme, meanwhile, will run in the number one spot in Pärnu County. Monika Helme will top the party's election list in Lääne, Saar...
Hot on the heels of the Social Democratic (SDE) and Reform parties announcing their primary candidates in each of the 12 electoral districts at the March 2019 general election, ruling coaltion majority party Centre has done the same. Centre, from whose ranks Prime Minister Jüri Ratas comes, will run the latter in Harju and Rapla counties, with three current ministers, one MEP and the deputy head of the Riigikogu joining him as front-runners in other distri...
Prosecutor General Lavly Perling will present an overview of requests for legal help, originating from the Russian Federation, to the Riigikogu on Tuesday. Letters from Russian authorities in 2012 and 2014 reportedly made clear reference to money laundering activity and requested witness input. According to business daily Äripäev, Ms Perling confirmed the letters contained direct reference to money laundering but were confidential and their contents not or...
Coalition partner the Social Democratic party (SDE) has announced its top riders for the March 2019 elections in Estonia's 12 electoral districts, though its full list will be confirmed in December, the party says. There are no real surprises on a well-stocked list which includes the recently-attracted Indrek Tarad, currently still an independent MEP. Mr Tarand, whilst standing for SDE, has not as yet become a party member. Since the system in Estonia is a...
According to Statistics Estonia, the change of the consumer price index in October 2018 was 0.5% compared to September and 4.4% compared to October of the previous year. Goods were 3.7% and services 5.7% more expensive compared to October 2017, while regulated prices of goods and services increased by 9.1%, and non-regulated prices by 3.1%. Compared to October 2017, the consumer price index was affected the most by transport, which contributed nearly a thi...
The Ministry of Culture has rejected the request of English-language web magazine Estonian World (EW) for support from the state to to the tune of €5,000 for the remainder of 2018. The ministry has, however, promised to seek opportunities for supporting the portal in 2019. "Unfortunately, the support to this extent of English-language Estonian media outlets is not provided for in the agenda and budget of the government-approved Compatriots Programme for th...
Last Wednesday, Theatre NO99 abruptly announced that it would be closing its doors, with its final performances scheduled for November and December. The theatre will be vacating a large building at the Central Tallinn address of Sakala 3, interest in which has been expressed by Sakala Skene, a new open centre for the performing arts and theatre education. Sakala Skene is a new brand uniting Polygon Theatre and Polygon Threatre School, Old Baskin's Theatre,...
The European Athletics Council has decided to award the right to host the European Athletics Under 20 Championships in 2021 to the Estonian Athletic Association, which will stage the event at Tallinn's Kadriorg Stadium. The same format was previously successfully hosted by the Estonian Athletic Association in 2011, in collaboration with the City of Tallinn. At the European Athletics Council meeting in Budapest, the Estonian bid to host the event was presen...