A Hellfire missile intended for a European training exercise was somehow delivered to Cuba in 2014. The Wall Street Journal describes it as “a loss of sensitive military technology that ranks among the worst known incidents of its kind.”
No one in our multi-trillion-dollar super-government seems to understand quite how this happened. The Journal quotes an unnamed U.S. official summing up the possibilities: “Did someone take a bribe to send it somewhere else? Was it an intelligence operation, or just a series of mistakes? That’s what we’ve been trying to figure out.”
The tracking map provided by the WSJ indicates the missile was shipped by manufacturer Lockeed Martin from the Orlando International Airport, and arrived on schedule in Rota, Spain for a NATO training exercise, where it was evidently used as intended. Its return trip took it through Frankfurt, Germany, where it apparently got loaded onto the wrong truck and handed off to the wrong airline, namely Air France. They took it to Charles de Gaulle Airport in France, from where it somehow got shipped to Havana, Cuba, despite being clearly marked as sensitive military hardware.
The Communists immediately realized what it was, grabbed it, and probably had a good time studying its advanced electronics for months. The warhead was inert, but that would likely be the least interesting part of the weapon to the Castro regime, or to any other rogue states they decide to share it with.
Despite President Obama’s hard work normalizing relations with the Communist regime, they apparently did not notify their good friend in Washington about the missile in their possession. Lockheed Martin eventually figured out where it was, and notified the State Department, which has been unsuccessfully pleading with the Cubans to return the weapon.
Intelligence and law enforcement agencies are trying to determine if the Hellfire was stolen, or shipped to Havana by mistake. If it was a mistake, it was an almost incomprehensible blunder, as a fairly large number of people should have noticed a clearly marked item of U.S. military hardware was being shipped to Cuba, which has been banned from receiving such technology since 1984.
If it was indeed a mistake, little can be done except fining or suing the entities responsible. Such financial penalties could be very large, but it is difficult to put a dollar value on the compromise of such vital military hardware.
“Now it’s a proliferation concern – someone else now understands how it works and what may have been cutting edge for us is deconstructed and packaged into what other players sell on the open market – and possibly provided to countries that we wouldn’t sell to,” explained Peter Singer of the New America Foundation.
The Wall Street Journal notes that “no official could recall an instance when a U.S. missile was sent to a sanctioned nation.”
A U.S. official confirmed the details of the Wall Street Journal’s story to the Associated Press, attributing the loss of the missile to an error by “Lockheed’s freight forwarders.”