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Authorities Lose Track of US Hellfire Missile, Wrongly Ship Weapon to Cuba

© AFP 2022 / ROMEO GACAD US Army armament crew specialist Michael Mayo, from Florida, loads the rocket pod of an an Apache AH-64D attack helicopter also armed with Hellfire missiles at left
US Army armament crew specialist Michael Mayo, from Florida, loads the rocket pod of an an Apache AH-64D attack helicopter also armed with Hellfire missiles at left - Sputnik International
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An inert air-to-surface Hellfire missile, produced by the United States and intended for training purposes in Europe, was shipped to Cuba by mistake, local media report.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – US authorities have tried to retrieve the missile from the Cuban government for over a year, The Wall Street Journal said on Thursday citing people familiar with the matter. The officials have also been working on establishing what actions led to the mistake made in 2014.

Cuba's President Raul Castro arrives for the official group photo of leaders attending the China and CELAC Summit, at the Itamaraty Palace, in Brasilia, Brazil, Thursday, July 17, 2014. - Sputnik International
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The missile manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, sent the weapon to Spain from Orlando International Airport in early 2014, after acquiring permission from the State Department.

In this Oct. 22, 2014, file photo, thick smoke from an airstrike by the US-led coalition rises in Kobani, Syria, as seen from a hilltop on the outskirts of Suruc, at the Turkey-Syria border - Sputnik International
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The Hellfire missile was later used in a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) military exercise, according to media reports. Following the training, it was eventually delivered to Germany, and was expected to be loaded on a Florida-bound flight. However, officials discovered that the missile was for unclear reasons placed on an Air France flight to Havana.

People familiar with the incident said US authorities have been concerned that Cuba could share the sensitive military technology with such nations as China, Russia and North Korea, according to media reports.

At present, the US State Department is probing whether the redirection of the weapon was a criminal act.

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