El Pais reports that the Spanish Eurofighter jets deployed in the Baltics have halted their air-policing drills after one of them accidentally fired a missile on Tuesday over southeast Estonia, Allied sources have confirmed. The weapon was fired at 3.44pm in an area located around 100 kilometres from the Russian border.
The Spanish aircraft have been suspended from the missions until the circumstances of the incident are cleared up, said the same sources. Estonian authorities are still looking for the missing missile, which they suspect may have hit the ground despite having a built-in self-destruct mode meant to go off in the air. No explosion was detected at the time of the incident.
NATO has assigned Portuguese F-16 squadrons and French Mirage 2000 jets the task of intercepting any unauthorized flights, while the Spanish jets have been temporarily left out of the air policing scrambles, which are ordered to respond to aircraft that approach Allied airspace without following international flight regulations.
While an investigation into the cause of the accident is still underway, military sources said that human error is the most likely cause as no software errors have been detected.