The Air Force Recovered a Live French Missile in Florida

Popular Mechanics:

  • A commercial airport discovered a French-made missile.
  • Authorities called in the U.S. Air Force and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, which transported it to a nearby air force base for safekeeping.
  • The missile was described as “live,” but authorities are unsure if it has a real explosive warhead. Indications on the casing, however, say it does.

A Florida airport called in the U.S. Air Force last week after discovering a live air-to-air missile. Officials at Lakeland Linder International Airport found the Matra 530 missile in a shipment to a defense contractor that uses the airport to house its fleet of fighter jets. The weapon was transferred to MacDill Air Force Base for disposal.

Authorities found the live missile in a shipment to Draken International, which specializes in providing pilots and fighter jets to fly against U.S. military pilots and air defense systems in realistic, real-world training. Draken has a fleet of 150 older jets retired from military services around the world, including the U.S., Czech Republic, South Africa, and France.The Matra Super 530 is an older, obsolete radar-guided missile. Draken flies the French-made Mirage F1M multi-role fighter, which was equipped with the Matra Super 530 during its military service. It’s possible a live 530 was accidentally slipped into a shipment of parts purchased by Draken. Judging from the visible markings, it’s not immediately clear there’s a live missile inside, although a trained weapons handler might guess as much.

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