The Estonian Defence Forces (EDF) have declined to comment on media speculation that the missile fired in error by a Spanish fighter pilot in NATO service resulted from an interception of a French Mirage 2000-5, also in NATO service.
Whilst an internal Spanish Airforce investigation after the 7 August incident reportedly concluded pilot error was to blame, a minimal penalty (alternatively 14 days’ detention or a week’s wages’ fine) was imposed, and the details of what exactly happened were not made public.
However, on Wednesday, weekly Eesti Ekspress reported a theory that the Spanish pilot, flying a Eurofighter Typhoon, intentionally loosed off an AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) after locking on to the Mirage. The French pilot had to take evasive action to avoid a direct hit by the projectile, the report also stated.
Missile never found
The missile itself, which was not found either intact or as debris, in spite of an extensive search by the EDF, impacted in the vicinity of the Endla bog, about 100km north of its firing point, causing brush fires to break out. The missile was reportedly fired at an altitude of 6,000m over the village of Pagodi, in Tartu County. The Estonian border with the Russian Federation lies only 60km east of Pagodi.
The EDF has declined to comment on the speculation; EDF strategic communications manager Vallo Toomet could only confirm to ERR that there were other planes in the area at the time. Whether the Spanish pilot was vectored on the French plane Mr Toomet could not say, in advance of all investigations being concluded.
”The Spanish military authorities have been investigating the incident and it is up to them to say what happened; the EDF has not intervened in their investigation,” Mr Toomet said.
Maj. Gen. Martin Herem replaced Gen. Riho Terras as EDF chief on Tuesday.