US Missile 'Accidentally' Shipped to Cuba

Feds have been asking Havana to return Hellfire
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 8, 2016 2:50 AM CST
Updated Jan 8, 2016 5:06 AM CST
US Missile 'Accidentally' Shipped to Cuba
An unmanned aerial vehicle's Predator Hellfire missile is shown on a simulator's virtual camera at the March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County, Calif.   (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

A Hellfire missile sent to Europe for a NATO training exercise ended up in Cuba, and authorities aren't sure whether to blame spies, criminals, or incompetent shippers. Sources tell the Wall Street Journal that the inert missile was clearly marked as sensitive cargo when Lockheed Martin sent it to Europe from Florida in 2014, but after it was used in a training exercise in Spain, it ended up among other cargo on an Air France flight from Paris to Havana when it was supposed to be on a flight from Frankfurt, Germany, to the US. Cuban officials seized the missile when it arrived and they realized what it was, the Journal's sources say.

A US official tells the AP that while authorities aren't too worried about Cuba reverse-engineering the Hellfire to create its own drone-based missile program, they suspect Havana may have shared the unexpected find with other countries. According to the Journal, American authorities have been asking Cuba, without success, to return the dummy missile and have been examining the paper trail in Europe to try to determine how it went so badly astray. A federal official says Lockheed Martin and other companies have been cited for export-control violations in the past. "This is a complicated business, mistakes are inherent in complicated businesses," the official says. "Mistakes are a part of any human endeavor. Mistakes are made." (Another dummy Hellfire landed on a Texas town.)

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