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US Air Force recovers a live missile from a Florida airport


That would have been a bit scary

Photo by Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images

A Florida airport was recently forced to call government officials to transport an errant French air-to-air missile to a nearby base.

What are the details?

Authorities at the Lakeland Linder International Airport in Lakeland, Florida, called the Air Force and the ATF to report the live missile.

Members of MacDill Air Force Base's 6th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal — or the bomb disposal team — arrived at the scene to retrieve the missile and transport it to their base for eventual destruction and disposal.

The missile, identified as a Matra 530 air-to-air type of radar-guided missile, was discovered in a shipment to defense contractor Draken International, which uses the airport for storage of its fighter jets.

Draken contracts out the jets to train current military pilots.

'It was live, but unarmed'

In a statement, Draken, an aerospace and defense company, told Spectrum News, "Adhering to the explosive safety rule of exposing the minimum amount of people for the minimum amount of time to a potential explosive hazard, the decision was made to evacuate the facility and its surrounding airport neighbors and contact the appropriate authorities. Draken takes its roll [sic] in the community seriously and always wants to ensure it performs safe and reliable operations."

The Military Times reported that the missile — which was strapped to the back of a flatbed truck — was live at the time of its discovery.

"It was live, but unarmed," a spokesperson for the Air Force told the outlet. "[The missile was] like having a gun with a bullet in a chamber, but on safety. Someone would have to arm the missile to fire it."

'It is too big for our range'

Air Force 1st Lt. Brandon Hanner, a spokesman for the 6th Air Refueling Wing, told Military Times that the destruction of the sizable missile would not take place at MacDill Air Force Base.

"That is likely not going to be here" Hanner explained to the outlet. "It is too big for our range. It will have to be taken off site to dispose [of] it."

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