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The Military United States

Hellfire Missile Mistakenly Shipped To Cuba 142

HughPickens.com writes: NPR reports that a Hellfire missile that was supposedly shipped to Europe for military exercises in 2014 somehow ended up in Cuba. It's still a mystery as to how the missile reached Cuba but the incident has "confounded investigators and experts who work in a regulatory system designed to prevent precisely such equipment from falling into the wrong hands." According to sources, Lockheed Martin sent the missile to Europe for a NATO training exercise — and on its return, it ended up on a plane to Havana, where it was impounded. A US government official familiar with the situation calls it a "dummy" missile that lacks a warhead or guidance system. Originally designed to be launched from helicopters, Hellfire missiles have also been used to arm drone aircraft in recent years — one was credited with killing "Jihadi John" in a US operation. Since the missile arrived in Cuba in 2014, U.S. requests for its return have gone unheeded.
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Hellfire Missile Mistakenly Shipped To Cuba

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  • No warhead. No guidance system. So basically we shipped them a big paperweight.
    • by athmanb ( 100367 ) on Friday January 08, 2016 @07:56PM (#51266113)
      It'd still be quite interesting to have a look at that missile. Even really basic things like hinges and reinforcement hull struts might give you ideas how to improve other missiles.

      Not that they necessarily are better but being able to look at how other people solved problems and compare them with your own solution has always been one of my favorite ways to gain knowledge.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by TWX ( 665546 )

        It'd still be quite interesting to have a look at that missile. Even really basic things like hinges and reinforcement hull struts might give you ideas how to improve other missiles. Not that they necessarily are better but being able to look at how other people solved problems and compare them with your own solution has always been one of my favorite ways to gain knowledge.

        If all it's lacking are the warhead and the guidance system, depending on what guidance system means, they might have everything short of the electronics necessary for function enough to fly. Is the guidance system partially dependent on the warhead? If a specialized warhead necessitates a particular way to control the device then this would make sense.

        While the guidance system is a very, very important component, having a known-functional design including all of the concealed mechanical underpinnings

        • If all it's lacking are the warhead and the guidance system, depending on what guidance system means, they might have everything short of the electronics necessary for function enough to fly. Is the guidance system partially dependent on the warhead?

          I'm pretty sure that the warhead is coupled to a guidance system. If you read the published specs you'll see that each warhead comes with different guidance characteristics, or vice versa.

      • by 6ULDV8 ( 226100 ) on Friday January 08, 2016 @09:59PM (#51266585)

        > It'd still be quite interesting to have a look at that missile. Even really basic things like hinges and reinforcement hull struts might give you ideas how to improve other missiles.

        No way they'd do that and risk violating the DMCA.

    • by hawguy ( 1600213 )

      No warhead. No guidance system. So basically we shipped them a big paperweight.

      Or so the Pentagon says. But that's the same pentagon that lost the missile in the first place, so I wouldn't assume that they really know how inert it is.

    • The worry is that there some sensitive technology on the missile without these systems.
    • No warhead. No guidance system. So basically we shipped them a big paperweight.

      Since it's solid-fueled it's probably launchable (no need to fuel it). No guidance means it can't hit a small or maneuvering target, and no warhead means it won't explode when it hits, but a 45kg object travelling at over Mach 1 coming through (for example) the windows of an office building could still ruin a lot of peoples' day. The Cuban government isn't going to do anything stupid with it, and they have probably have plenty of real, functional Soviet equivalents anyway, but it's good that this didn't fal

    • No warhead. No guidance system. So basically we shipped them a big paperweight.

      No, we shipped them a giant model rocket!!!

  • Then we'll fire it in the direction of some US spy plane.

    • Except they're ground attack missiles. Very poor targeting performance air-to-air.

    • by KGIII ( 973947 )

      Who the hell do you think you're fooling? Cuba's not even a toothless tiger, they're just toothless AND that's a good thing. You don't need to put on a brave face and be tough. I've been to Cuba, more than once even, and I loved it there. There's absolutely zero chance at Cuba doing a damned thing with it IF they even have it. The best thing they could do is just give it back. Better still, invite Obama down to come pick it up personally. It would be the most awesome diplomatic gesture ever.

      Cuba's not even

  • by swschrad ( 312009 ) on Friday January 08, 2016 @07:53PM (#51266099) Homepage Journal

    "Says 'Hell' does it not? ship it to Cuba."

    and so it goes

  • by fluffernutter ( 1411889 ) on Friday January 08, 2016 @07:58PM (#51266127)
    "Since the missile arrived in Cuba in 2014, U.S. requests for its return have gone unheeded."

    But boy do they giggle like school girls every time the next request comes in.
    • by voss ( 52565 )

      Well they have our missle, we have 45 square miles of their territory.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      But we have wonderful relations with those Communists now. Obama told me so, right before he mentioned how ISIS was contained.

    • Re:School girls (Score:5, Informative)

      by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Friday January 08, 2016 @09:49PM (#51266553)
      Historically, unless the countries are at war, these things are returned. When Cuban defectors flew MiGs to the U.S. [wikipedia.org], the planes were returned. Completely disassembled and shipped back in crates, but they were returned. Same thing with the U.S. EP-3E which landed on Hainan Island. China returned it to the U.S. [wikipedia.org], in crates after they'd completely taken it apart, but they returned it. The U-2 plane which the Soviets shot down was also returned, minus the film and a few pieces of the plane which are still on display in a Moscow museum.

      If Cuba won't return the missile, that puts them in the company of Iran, who flaunted International law and precedent by not returning the U.S. spy drone which landed in their country, and North Korea, which still holds the USS Pueblo.
      • Flouted not flaunted. The English, she is very tricky, no?

      • by KGIII ( 973947 )

        I don't want to give North Korea any credit here but we are, technically, still at war with Best Korea - sort of. The war is still at armistice stage and there is no formal treaty and the US will not sign a treaty at this point because of their nuke program.

        However, we don't have a damned thing to worry about with Cuba - seriously. I know, I've said this in the thread already but there's literally nothing to worry about. Canada is more likely to wage war on the US than Cuba is. (They're also able to do more

      • If Cuba won't return the missile...

        Well, it's still early days. They will probably return it once they have analysed it throughly; possibly in the form of finely ground powder.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        If Cuba won't return the missile, that puts them in the company of Iran, who flaunted International law and precedent by not returning the U.S. spy drone which landed in their country, and North Korea, which still holds the USS Pueblo.

        Uhm.. Did you even think before writing that?

        "Oh, no! They are not returning our equipment that we violated their territory with! Them are the bad guys!"

        Yes, I'm sure the US will return any Russian spy drones flying over US territory too.

        • Did you even read the grandparent's examples? The U.S. has returned equipment like that to hostile countries before. Yeah, I assume any spy plane would be taken apart, recordings deleted or destroyed, etc., but it still gets returned, assuming the owners admit to it being theirs.
      • Maybe they're not done taking it apart yet?

    • We should give them hell.

    • Cuba probably tosses those requests onto the pile of undeposited rent checks we sent them for Gitmo.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

  • by GrBear ( 63712 ) on Friday January 08, 2016 @08:14PM (#51266197)

    Seriously.. I ordered an open source Smoothieboard (for a 3D printer) from the US to Canada. It left Idaho, went to Los Angels and then went to Tokyo where it sat for two weeks.

    https://tools.usps.com/go/Trac... [usps.com]

    Doesn't surprise me anymore when shit ends up going to the wrong place.

  • Why, not how (Score:5, Informative)

    by wonkey_monkey ( 2592601 ) on Friday January 08, 2016 @08:21PM (#51266223) Homepage

    It's still a mystery as to how the missile reached Cuba

    On a plane. Says so in the summary.

    Why it went to Cuba is the mystery.

    • But how does military equipment like a missile get on a civilian plane in the first place? Did it drop off the truck at the military airport and get mixed up with someone's luggage at the nearby civilian airport or did they just use UPS?

    • Re:Why, not how (Score:5, Informative)

      by aix tom ( 902140 ) on Friday January 08, 2016 @08:51PM (#51266355)

      Wall Street Journal [wsj.com] seems to know. Sub-Sub-Sub-Contractor mix-up it seems.

      The people familiar with the case said the missile was sent to Spain and used in the military exercise. But for reasons that are still unclear, after it was packed up, it began a roundabout trip through Europe, was loaded onto a truck and eventually sent to Germany.

      The missile was packaged in Rota, Spain, a U.S. official said, where it was put into the truck belonging to another freight-shipping firm, known by officials who track such cargo as a “freight forwarder.” That trucking company released the missile to yet another shipping firm that was supposed to put the missile on a flight originating in Madrid. That flight was headed to Frankfurt, Germany, before it was to be placed on another flight bound for Florida.

      At some point, officials loading the first flight realized the missile it expected to be loading onto the aircraft wasn’t among the cargo, the government official said. After tracing the cargo, officials realized that the missile had been loaded onto a truck operated by Air France, which took the missile to Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. There, it was loaded onto a “mixed pallet” of cargo and placed on an Air France flight. By the time the freight-forwarding firm in Madrid tracked down the missile, it was on the Air France flight, headed to Havana.

      Attempts to reach Air France were unsuccessful.

    • Vacationing with Rahm Emanuel

    • by dohzer ( 867770 )

      Because it was put on a plane bound for Cuba.
      Do I have to explain everything!?

    • It's still a mystery as to how the missile reached Cuba

      On a plane. Says so in the summary.

      Why it went to Cuba is the mystery.

      Pretty sure why is answered too. It went to Cuba because it was aboard an a plane that went there.

  • by onkelonkel ( 560274 ) on Friday January 08, 2016 @08:49PM (#51266341)

    Talk about overkill. A hellfire has a 20 lb high explosive warhead that can take out a main battle tank. They must have wanted Jihadi John killed really really dead.

  • Meanwhile in Afghanistan, a marine is un-crating a gift basket with a letter expressing "joy and cooperation in our future". Nothing unusual with supply. Moves on to next crate without thinking about it.

  • They lost a run-of-the-mill cold-war-era missile!?!? ZOMG TEH SECRET ADVANCED TECHNOLOGIES!!1uno

  • I love how Senator Rubio fired off a public message condemning them for hiding the fact that they misdirected mail to Cuba. I can see the exchange now...

    "You've been concealing the fact that you used the wrong zip code on our missile from the American People!" --Sen. Rubio
    "And you've been concealing the fact that you're a Moron." --State Department
    "Touche."

  • Old trade show trick (Score:4, Informative)

    by swm ( 171547 ) <swmcd@world.std.com> on Saturday January 09, 2016 @12:39AM (#51266971) Homepage

    on its return, it ended up on a plane to Havana

    Show is over.
    Everybody is tearing down and packing up; there is equipment and boxes everywhere; everyone wants to get home; no one is paying attention.
    Wander by a stack of your competitor's boxes, slap your shipping label on top of theirs; wander off.
    A week later you have their box on your loading dock.
    Reverse-engineer at your leisure.
    When you are done, call them up, tell them one of their boxes got misdirected, and where would they like it shipped to?

  • Look for a 1953 Oldsmobile powered by a Hellfire rocket motor on the next episode of Cuban Chrome.
    • Look for a 1953 Oldsmobile powered by a Hellfire rocket motor on the next episode of Cuban Chrome.

      With the guidance fins welded to the rear-end. Sweet!

  • It sounds to me like the missile was to be shipped to an address in Florida, but it was placed on an Air France airplane that had an intermediate stop in Cuba.
    Cuban customs found the missile and impounded it.

    Is that a little closer to what happened?

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