Why Were Hellfire Missiles Found On a Portland Bound Passenger Flight?
Last weekend, bomb sniffing dogs in Serbia made a rather disturbing discovery. A civilian passenger plane traveling from Lebanon (which was stopped for reasons that haven’t been explained) was carrying wooden crates that contained two hellfire missiles. The American made missiles are a staple of the US Armed forces, and they are frequently deployed on predator drones and helicopters. So why were they found on a civilian plane, and more importantly, where were they headed?
While the former is still a mystery, the documents on the crates indicated that their final destination was Portland, Oregon. They were also labeled as “model rockets.” The Lebanese army says the missiles were being used for training purposes and didn’t contain any explosives, but Serbian officials are still investigating the munitions to see if that claim is true. The Lebanese army also claims that they were shipping the missiles back to their manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, but the company says that their Portland office doesn’t work with weapons or munitions.
If these really are nothing more than inert training missiles, then this wouldn’t be the first time this kind of mishap has occurred. An inert hellfire missile was mistakenly shipped to Cuba in 2014, and wasn’t returned to the US until last month. At the time, US officials feared that Cuba would share the missile’s technology with Russia or North Korea. So even if it turns out that these missiles are just training rounds, the Lebanese military has a lot of explaining to do, after they tried shipping highly sensitive military technology on a civilian airline.