Missing U.S. Hellfire Missile Found in Cuba

Soldiers mount a Hellfire missile onto an Apache helicopter

Soldiers mount a Hellfire missile onto an Apache helicopter / Wikimedia Commons


A U.S. Hellfire missile sent to Europe for use in a NATO military exercise was improperly sent to Cuba sometime in 2014, leading federal officials to investigate whether the delivery was accidental or orchestrated by spies or criminals.

The Wall Street Journal reported:

Hellfires are air-to-ground missiles, often fired from helicopters. They were first designed as antitank weapons decades ago, but have been modernized to become an important part of the U.S. government’s antiterrorism arsenal, often fired from Predator drones to carry out lethal attacks on targets in countries including Yemen and Pakistan, said people familiar with the technology. This particular missile didn’t contain explosives, but U.S. officials worry that Cuba could share the sensors and targeting technology inside it with nations like China, North Korea, or Russia, these people said. Officials don’t suspect Cuba is likely to try to take apart the missile on its own and try to develop similar weapons technology, these people said. It is unclear whether a U.S. adversary has ever obtained such knowledge of a Hellfire.

For over a year, U.S. officials have been trying to compel Cuba to return the missile, which was first found to be in the country in June 2014 around the time that State Department officials were engaging in private talks to normalize relations with Cuba.

President Obama announced in December 2014 that the U.S. would restore full relations with Cuba, and the two countries formally reestablished diplomatic relations last summer.

Lockheed Martin Corp., the missile’s manufacturer, handled the shipping with permission from the State Department.

Morgan Chalfant   Email Morgan | Full Bio | RSS
Morgan Chalfant is a staff writer at the Washington Free Beacon. Prior to joining the Free Beacon, Morgan worked as a staff writer at Red Alert Politics. She also served as the year-long Collegiate Network fellow on the editorial page at USA TODAY from 2013-14. Morgan graduated from Boston College in 2013 with a B.A. in English and Mathematics. Her Twitter handle is @mchalfant16.

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