The Country’s in the Very Best of Hands

It’s always in the last place you look. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that a Hellfire missile that’s been missing for more than a year has turned up in Cuba:

An inert U.S. Hellfire missile sent to Europe for training purposes was wrongly shipped from there to Cuba in 2014, said people familiar with the matter, a loss of sensitive military technology that ranks among the worst-known incidents of its kind.

The unintended delivery of the missile to Cuba has confounded investigators and experts who work in a regulatory system designed to prevent precisely such equipment from falling into the wrong hands, said those familiar with the matter.

For more than a year, amid a historic thawing of relations between the U.S. and Cuba, American authorities have tried to get the Cuban government to return the missile, said people familiar with the matter. At the same time, federal investigators have been tracing the paper trail of the wayward Hellfire to determine if its arrival in Cuba was the work of criminals or spies, or the result of a series of blunders, these people said.

Explain to me again how we needn’t be worried about advanced weaponry getting into the hands of terrorists. I’d also be interested in a more precise definition of “inert”. A missile rendered inert by removing its explosives (which is what is being implied) is still potentially a deadly weapon. When rendering it inert how about removing the electronics?

If I were a betting man, I’d bet on blunders—keep in mind the famous oxymoron “military intelligence”—but the sad truth is that incompetence can be just as dangerous as malevolence.

2 comments… add one
  • steve Link

    Don’t forget that they fired a general or two were fired over misplacing nuclear weapons. This is a long time problem. We help out an older couple at our church on occasion. He was a SAC guy from back during the LeMay era. (can’t remember if LeMay still ran SAC or was AF Chief by then.) He recounts numerous stories of near accidents. It is a miracle we made it through that period w/o a nuclear accident. LeMay’s paranoia and the way they treated people contributed to it quite a bit, at least as recounted.


  • Andy Link

    It’s called a “captive air training missile” and it’s not dangerous. It’s a missile with the same weight, center of gravity and outside appearance of a real missile, but without a motor, warhead and most of the internal electronics. They’re used for ordnance personnel to practice handling and loading/unloading on aircraft. Additionally, the can be carried on aircraft to simulate carrying a real weapon. I’m not familiar with the CATM Hellfire, so can’t really say what, if any, sensitive technology goes with the missile.

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