Estonian defense forces fail to find Eurofighter missile in Endla nature park

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PHOTO: Kaitsevägi

After a thorough inspection, the Estonian defense forces on Saturday concluded searches in the current search area in the Endla nature park without having found components of the missile accidentally fired by a Spanish fighter jet on Tuesday nor evidence of the missile having landed there.

Search for the missile's possible place of landing will be continued with the Air Force's aircraft, spokespeople at the headquarters of the defense forces said. Members of the 1st Infantry Brigade, who arrived in the area on Friday, checked an area of approximately 600 square meters with metal detectors and then inspected an area of about 200 hectares by way of observation.

"As there were many wrong signals in the soil layer, we peeled off a top layer of approximately half a meter until the clay layer with the help of an excavator and continued searches with deep screen detectors," Capt. Karmo Saar, head of the explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) center of the defense forces who and head of the search, said. He added that no signals referring to the missile were found with the help of a detector able to show findings up to six meters deep in the ground. "This is strong clay soil. Considering the aluminum construction of the missile, we do not think that it could have penetrated deeper than six meters there," he said.

After checking the area, it was restored back to its state prior to the search as best possible and a visual inspection of the area with a diameter of approximately half a kilometer was continued, which also bore no results.

"We searched for details of the missile or indications like broken branches or other characteristics referring to the missile's landing both from the ground and the surrounding trees in a chain formation. As a conclusion of all of this, we can say that we do not believe the missile landed in the area inspected," Saar said.

According to commander of the Air Force Col. Riivo Valge, searches will continue with the aircraft of the Air Force. He said that it is possible that the missile has penetrated the earth in a boggy area and it will not be found at all, but the decision has been made to continue with visual searches.

"We hoped that we would find the missile from the current search area as all external characteristics indicated that, but those characteristics did not lead us to a find," Valge said.

The defense forces are still thankful for any clues that may lead to finding the missile. The defense forces ask anyone who finds an object resembling a missile to immediately move away from it and call the emergency number 112.

On Tuesday at 3:44 p.m. a Spanish Eurofighter on NATO Baltic air policing duty accidentally fired an air-to-air missile in a north-northwesterly direction while over Pangodi in the Estonian airspace, six kilometers off the ground. Circumstances of the incident will be determined in an investigation.

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