The Post & Courier (Charleston, SC) A powerful U.S. air-to-ground missile whose design and electronics are a military secret has ended up in the hands of the Cuban government through a series of bizarre mishaps or deliberate theft that could be the plot for a Cold War comedy — or something much darker.
The Wall Street Journal reports that U.S. officials fear that whether it got the missile by accident or design, the Cuban government has likely shared its secrets with countries like China, North Korea or Russia, and that copies could soon turn up on the international arms market.
Despite thawing U.S. relations with Cuba, the State Department has reportedly been unable to get the missile back or find out what happened to it.
According to the Journal, an unarmed version of the Hellfire air-to-ground missile, designed to kill tanks, was loaned by its manufacturer, Lockheed-Martin, to NATO for a training exercise in Spain. It was supposed to be returned by air from Madrid via Frankfurt, Germany, but its clearly marked shipping case somehow ended up going to Paris where it was loaded on an Air France flight to Havana, and there it vanished.
The FBI and U.S. intelligence agents are still trying to figure out whether the diversion of the missile to Cuba was purely accidental or a clever Cuban intelligence coup.
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