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Estonia Searching For Missile Accidentally Fired During NATO Air Exercise

The air-to-air Amraam missile has a range of 100 kilometers. (file photo)

Estonian military helicopters are looking for a missile after it was accidentally fired over the country's southern skies on August 7 by a Spanish fighter jet participating in a NATO training mission.

The air-to-air Amraam missile has a range of 100 kilometers and has a built-in self-destruct function, but authorities said it could have hit the ground somewhere without detonating. They said the missile was fired near the southeastern city of Otepaa.

Estonian air force chief Riivo Valge said the missile carries between 5 and 10 kilograms of explosives, which he said is not much destructive force.

An investigation has also begun into how the Spanish Eurofighter jet, which is providing security in the Baltic region along with other NATO forces based in Lithuania, could have accidentally fired the rocket.

Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas said on Facebook "thank God" there were "no human casualties" due to this "startling incident," which he called "extremely regrettable."

"I am sure that the Estonian defense forces will, in cooperation with our allies, identify all the circumstances of the case and make every effort to make sure that nothing like this happens again," he said.

The Spanish Defense Ministry said it was investigating the incident and said the missile did not hit any aircraft or "cause any harm."

The Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania have no fighter jets of their own, making them reliant on other NATO partners for air security. Valge said this was the first time such an incident had been reported.

Based on reporting by dpa and AFP