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Estonia halts NATO air drills after jet misfires missile

AP  |  Helsinki 

Estonia's has ordered a halt to air exercises in pending an investigation after a missile was accidentally fired over the Baltic country's airspace by a Spanish fighter jet on a exercise this week.

The air-to-air missile that was erroneously launched Tuesday over southern has not been found, but no people were reported injured or killed by the misfiring, said yesterday.

"The Spanish has apologized and expressed deep regret," Luik said at a conference in the Estonian capital of Tallinn, adding that the of the Spanish Armed Forces apologized as well.

Estonian spoke with on Wednesday, expressing Estonia's concern over the "serious incident."

The AMRAAM-type missile has a range of up to 100 kilometers (62 miles.) It may have crashed into a remote nature reserve in the eastern Jogeva region, not far from Estonia's border with Russia, or triggered its built-in self-destruct mode and exploded in midair, Luik said.

The jet belonging to the was part of NATO's Baltic air-policing mission based in and was carrying air-to-air missiles containing up to 10 kilograms (22 pounds) of explosives. While Luik urged to conduct a thorough investigation, he also launched an internal review of the safety regulations for arranging air exercises in the tiny nation of 1.3 million.

Until the completion of that review "I have suspended all NATO exercises in the Estonian airspace," he said. Luik reaffirmed Estonia's trust in NATO's Baltic air mission, which started in 2004 as Estonia, and joined the alliance. The three former Soviet republics don't possess fighter jets of their own.

The air policing is carried out from NATO's bases in Siauliai, Lithuania, and Amari, French, Portuguese and Spanish fighter jets are currently in charge of the rotating four-month mission.

In Moscow, said Thursday the Estonian missile incident showed that NATO's air drills are security risks for the region.

"What happened is yet another vivid demonstration of the fact that NATO's actions, including in the Baltic states, pose extra risks to security rather than improving it," Zakharova told reporters.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, August 10 2018. 02:10 IST