Cuba returns US Hellfire Missile

Oops! U.S. State Department Sends $65,000 Training Hellfire Missile To Cuba After Loading It On Wrong Plane

The U.S. State Department made a blunder that has left many scratching their heads. A $65,000 dummy Hellfire missile was placed onto the wrong plane after being used in a NATO training exercise in Spain back in 2014. The dummy missile was supposed to be placed on an Air France plane bound for Florida, but instead the Hellfire training missile was placed on an airplane that flew into Cuba. Once the missile landed in Cuba, officials in the country immediately confiscated the pricey military tech and many feared the Cuban government might share the technology with potential U.S. adversaries like North Korea or Russia. Fortunately for the U.S. State Department, after two years, the Cuban government has finally agreed to return the training missile to the United States.

The Daily Mail reports that a dummy Hellfire missile was sent to Spain as part of a NATO training exercise. The training missile did not contain any explosives, a warhead, fusing system or rocket motor, and it had an incomplete guidance section; however, there were still fears that the country would share the technology with potential United States enemies providing them with a look into one of the United States’ main armaments used in the air campaign against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

Though the inert missile did not contain explosives, it was a prototype used for training purposes and showcased some of the Hellfire missile’s unique technological aspects. It also cost $65,000 to make. Therefore, it was highly disturbing when the piece of military training equipment was placed on the wrong airplane by officials in Spain. The dummy Hellfire missile was loaded on a plane bound for Cuba when it was supposed to be placed on an airplane heading to Florida. When the Air France plane containing the inert missile landed in Cuba, Cuban officials immediately realized what was in the cargo and quickly confiscated the pricey military tech. The cargo landed in 2014, but Cuba initially refused to return the pricey military training technology to the United States and instead kept it in their custody. However, things have recently changed, likely due to the re-establishment of diplomatic relations with the country.

The training missile was made by Lockhead Martin and it is reported that a team from the company is heading to Cuba to retrieve the missile following an agreement with Cuba regarding the return. It is unclear why Cuba suddenly, after two years, has decided to return the training missile but many are thanking more open communications between Cuba and the United States for the return. The United States government and Lockhead Martin have allegedly been working “for months” to retrieve the missile and have finally received the go-ahead.

The Cuban government has spoken out about how they obtained the inert Hellfire missile noting that it was discovered on a “routine inspection” of a plane from Paris, France. In a public statement, the Cuban government has confirmed the return of the missile but noted they took the arrival of undeclared United States military equipment very seriously.

“For Cuban authorities, the arrival in the country of U.S.-made military equipment that hadn’t been declared as such on the cargo manifesto was worrying. [The inert missile was] duly conserved and taken care of and once the U.S. government officially informed Cuba that the missile had been shipped there by mistake and the U.S. wanted to recover it, Cuba began proceedings to return the missile. Cuba acted with seriousness and transparency and cooperated in order to find a satisfactory solution to this situation.”

What do you think about the US State Department losing a $65,000 training Hellfire missile in Cuba?

[Photo by John Moore/Getty Images]