Grab the popcorn, this is an action comedy in the making that will have you chuckling the whole way. The only problem is that it’s real, it’s as terrifying as it is funny and the missile still hasn’t been returned. After a series of seemingly inexplainable errors, a US “Hellfire” missile was picked up by an unknowing Air France, and loaded onto a passenger jet as mixed cargo.
The Wall Street Journal offers in depth coverage on the calamity of errors and their national security implications, but for those of you less interested in the national security and more keen to get the accurate but comical details, I’ll do my best. So essentially, the missile was originally sent to Spain for some military exercises. When it was time to return home the errors began.
The missile was packaged and put on a truck, intended to be placed on a flight from Madrid to Frankfurt, possibly LAN’s Dreamliner, before returning to Florida. Surprisingly, a Hellfire missile with millions in guidance chips and classified technology doesn’t warrant military transport. The Hellfire missile was shipped freight, with two freight forwarding companies doing the “heavy lifting”. Only problem, when checking the missile into the first flight, which theoretically would require some paperwork, officials realized the missile wasn’t there. The missile had been mistakenly loaded onto an Air France truck bound for Charles De Gaulle.
It happens, missiles get on the wrong truck, you call the shipping company and sort it out. Wrong. This missile ended up being loaded as “mixed cargo”, without any declarations, onto a flight to the worst tactical destination for the United States that Air France serves, Havana, Cuba. The island nation is choosing to flex it’s muscles, refusing to return the missile, which scares the living hell out of those in the Defense Department who fear that some of Cuba’s other allies like China, North Korea or Russia and others might love a peak at their new toy. Great.
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