Two Spanish Eurofighter Typhoon 2000 jets and two French Mirage 2000 jets were flying over southwestern Estonia on Tuesday when the incident happened. The crew has been temporarily suspended from completing their duties and Portugal will be taking their place.
Estonian Defense Minister Jüri Luik said that this was an extremely rare and regrettable incident.
It has not been ruled out that the rocket landed on the ground. The AMRAAM type rocket is 3.7 meters long, 18 centimeters in diameter, and the missile carries an explosive head. The last supposed location of the rocket was 40 kilometers north of Tartu, the Defense Force announced.
The Defense Forces has launched an operations search procedure with air force helicopters. According to Colonel Riivo Valge, Commander of the Airborne Force, this is the first such case in the history of Baltic air security.
The Spanish Eurofighter crew participating in the incident, returned home, but the NATO exercise will continue. An investigation has been initiated in order to find out more in which the Estonian Air Force, the Spanish Air Force, the Air Authority and NATO will participate.
Prime Minister Jüri Ratas said in a post posted on Facebook that Tuesday’s incident is extremely unfortunate and he expressed hope in cooperation with allies that he will succeed in finding out all the circumstances.
“The NATO Airborne Emergency Mission is a very important and necessary part of securing the security of the Estonian state, but we must always keep in mind the security of our civilians. The horrible incident that happened today, according to current information, has passed thanks to God without human casualties, but it is nevertheless extremely regrettable. The related authorities are doing their utmost to ensure people’s safety,” wrote the head of government.
“I am convinced that the Estonian Defense Forces will, in cooperation with our allies, clarify all the circumstances of the case and make every effort to prevent something like this from happening again. I wish all the agencies involved the best to resolve the situation as quickly as possible,” Ratas added.