Defence Forces are ending the active search for the missing AMRAAM missile

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AIM 120 AMRAAM õhk-õhk tüüpi rakett.

PHOTO: AFP / Scanpix

Today Estonian Defence Forces decided to end the active searches for a missing AMRAAM missile accidentally shot from Spanish fighter in Estonian airspace last Tuesday, but will stay ready to react and continue the search if new information arises.

“All theoretical ground hitting points of the missile are now carefully searched. During the past two weeks, we employed three helicopters, five ground patrols and fifty men large units for the chain searches on ground. We also got help from Rescue Board Explosive Ordnance Disposal Centre and used Air Forces drones for the search,” said Commander of the Estonian Air Forces Colonel Riivo Valge. “Despite of our systematic approach and action the location of the missile have not been identified and all probable locations have been ruled out by now,” he added. 

Colonel Valge said that according to the analyses of the missile trajectory and information received by the Air Forces the search have moved from the most probable locations of the impact to the less probable locations. To date they have concluded that further search is no longer rational because chances of finding the rocket are too small, but Air Forces are ready to continue the search should the new information arise.

Colonel Valge said that it is still unclear what happened to the missile after it was fired – it might have exploded mid-air or during the impact with the ground, it might have penetrated the soil and exploded underground. It is also still possible that missile reached the ground without detonating the warhead.

“It is extremely important that anybody who finds ordnance or something resembling ordnance will immediately inform the emergency services by calling 112, mark the place and leave the dangerous area,” said the Head of the Rescue Board Explosive Ordnance Disposal Centre Meelis Mesi.

He said that 4071 pieces of mostly historical ordnance were disposed last year during planned ordnance disposal works or on information submitted by the public. Ordnance was destroyed on place or transported and destroyed in ordnance disposing areas.

“Dealing with the ordnance should be left to Rescue Board explosive ordnance disposal specialists, who have modern personal protection gear and hardware for such operations,” Mesi added.

Tuesday, August 07 a Spanish Eurofighter on NATO Baltic Air Policing duty accidentally fired an AMRAAM air-to-air missile in Estonian airspace. The missile was fired at 15:44 local time. No damage has been reported. The incident is under investigation.

Incident with the Spanish fighter is under investigation by the Estonian Air Force and Spanish Defence Forces. In addition, Minister of Defence of Estonia have created a joint working group with Ministry of Economic affairs and Communications to evaluate safety of the civil aviation during military air exercises. Estonian Defence Forces is cooperating with all investigation parties.

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