Hellfire missile returns to the US after accidentally being shipped to Cuba

The missile mistakenly ended up in the Communist country after travelling in the cargo hold of a commercial Air France flight

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The Independent US

A Hellfire missile has been returned to the US after an embarrassing mix-up in which it was accidentally sent to Cuba.

The air-to-ground missile, weighing around 100lbs, mistakenly ended up in the Communist country after travelling in the cargo hold of a commercial Air France flight.

The inert laser-guided missile was being used as part of a NATO training exercise, and did not contain explosives.

But a ‘logistical mix-up’, on behalf of manufacturers Lockheed Martin, saw the military equipment flown from Paris to the US’s old rival.  

Cuba confirmed they discovered the Hellfire during a routine customs inspection of the cargo.

A statement issued by the government said: “For Cuban authorities, the arrival in the country of US-made military equipment that hadn’t been declared as such on the cargo manifesto was worrying.”

Despite the dummy missile being incomplete, it raised fears sensitive military technology could be passed on to Russian or North Korean governments.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said in a statement: “We can say, without speaking to specifics that the inert training missile has been returned with the cooperation of the Cuban government.”

A recent thaw in relations between the US and Cuba allowed the missile to be returned safely.

Mr Toner added re-establishing diplomatic ties has paved the way for the US to “engage with the Cuban government on issues of mutual interest.”

But it is thought the US government has been working for some time to secure the return of the missile, after it arrived on the island in 2014.

Without revealing when the US officially requested for its return, Cuba released a statement which said: “Once the US government officially informed the Cuban government that a training missile belonging to the company Lockheed Martin was mistakenly sent to our country and expressed its interest in recovering it, Cuba communicated the decision to hand it over and started arrangements for its return.”

A team from the US government and Lockheed Martin escorted the projectile back to American soil earlier this month.