Cuba has returned the US a non-reactive Hellfire missile which was shipped to Havana by mistake from Europe in 2014.
The inert missile was sent to Spain for a Nato training exercise, following which it was taken to Germany and then to Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport for onward delivery to Florida. It was mistakenly loaded onto an Air France flight to Havana. According to officials, the mistake could have been a huge loss to the military technology.
The Americans had to ask the Cuban authorities to return their highly sensitive missile, the BBC reported.
According to a Cuban Foreign Ministry statement, the missile arrived from Paris, “by mistake or mishandling in the country of origin.”
It added, “Cuba acted with seriousness and transparency and co-operated to find a satisfactory solution to this issue.”
Manufactured by Lockheed Martin, the Hellfire is a laser-guided air to surface missile that can be deployed from an attack helicopter or an unmanned drone. The mistake has raised concern that the technology could be shared by Cuba with possible American adversaries like North Korea or Russia. The missile had an incomplete guidance section with no functional seeker head, war head, rocket motor or fusing system.
”The inert training missile has been returned with the cooperation of the Cuban government,” the CNBC quoted a State Department spokesman, Mark Toner, as saying.
The United States has been trying to retrieve the missile for some months and said that talks were on with the manufacturers to bring it back. Lockheed’s freight forwarders were considered responsible for the shipping error.
In July last year, Cuba, a long time Cold War adversary of the United States, restored diplomatic relations with the US after more than 50 years. Both the countries are making an effort to rebuild their economic and trade relations. An announcement on restoring commercial flights between the US and Havana is expected on Tuesday.