Personnel from the Estonian Defence Forces (EDF) have not yet found any debris from the missile accidentally fired by a Eurofighter jet on Tuesday, with the search continuing at the supposed impact zone at Endla nature park in central Estonia.
Aivo Vahemets, spokesperson from EDF headquarters, told the Baltic News Service on Friday that the search is ongoing but added that there are currently no updates.
It had previously been announced that the area where the missile probably fell is a boggy area close to the Endla nature park with no human habitation in the immediate vicinity.
A Eurofighter Typhoon in Ejército del Aire (Spanish Air Force) service, flying on NATO Baltic air policing duty, reportedly fired an air-to-air missile [the Eurofighter Typhoon can carry a wide range of armaments – ed.] in error at 15.44 EEST on Tuesday.
The missile was launched in a north-northwesterly direction, it is reported, while the plane was flying over the town of Pangodi at an altitude of around 6,000 m. Pangodi lies around 25 km southwest of Estonia's second city, Tartu.
Highly unusual incident
According to commander of the Estonian Air Force, Col. Riivo Valge, exactly how the event came to pass is to be the subject of investigation and experts from various fields are to provide their assessments on how to avoid similar incidents in the future.
Several stages are involved in the loading, arming and firing of a missile system, starting with the ground crew who have the responsibility of ensuring the missile has been loaded safely.
Chief of staff of the EDF, Maj. Gen. Martin Herem, has stated that the incident is highly unusual. At the same time, carrying out flight exercises is a necessary part of the policing duties and fighters need to carry weapons; there would be little point in the exercises without them, he added.
Maj. Gen. Herem has also noted that the commander of the Estonian Air Force should not be held responsible for the event since his role in events leading to the erroneous missile launch was only minor.
According to Valge, the Estonian Air Force was notified within a few minutes of the incident and in the following half an hour its details were more thoroughly checked. Around an hour later the air force forwarded the relevant information to its cooperation partners, including the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA), he says.
The Eurofighter Typhoon is a multi-role fighter, built by multi-national firms and operated by several EU nations including Spain, as well as several Gulf Arab states. It entered service in 1994.
Editor: Andrew Whyte