Serbia finds US-bound guided missiles on flight from Beirut

Dog Discovers Missiles Being Shipped To US From Serbia

BELGRADE, March 14 (Reuters) - Serbian authorities found two dummy U.S.-made training missiles en route from Lebanon to the United States on a civil flight via Serbia, sources familiar with the matter said on Monday.

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The "captive air training missiles" did not have a warhead, rocket or guidance system, said one source who spoke on condition of anonymity, saying they were headed to the United States after being used to train the Lebanese Armed Forces.

The two were inert air-to-ground Hellfire missiles, the same model as one that arrived in Cuba by mistake in 2014 and was retrieved last month by U.S. officials and representatives from its maker Lockheed Martin. Cuba said that one had arrived by mistake on a commercial flight from Paris.

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Serbia finds US-bound guided missiles on flight from Beirut
ISRAEL - APRIL 7: In this handout photo provided by the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), an Arrow anti-missile missile is launched from a testing ground on April 7, 2009 in central Israel. The Defense Ministry confirmed the successful test of the anti-missile system designed to protect the country from attack by Iran. (Photo by IAI via Getty Images)
PAKISTAN, UNDISCLOSED LOCATION - NOVEMBER 17: A photo released by Pakistan army, on November 17, 2014, shows Pakistan army test-fires Shaheen 1A or Hatf IV ballistic missile, a nuclear capable ballistic missile with a range of 900 kilometres, days after testing a similar missile capable of hitting targets as far as 1,500 kilometres, bringing many Indian cities under its range. (Photo by Pakistan Army/Pool/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
USA- JANUARY: USS Florida launches a Tomahawk cruise missile during Giant Shadow in the waters off the coast of the Bahamas during January 2003 - Giant Shadow is a Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA),Naval Submarine Forces experiment to test the capabilities of the Navy's future guided missile submarines.(Photo by Ron SACHS/GAMMA/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
398198 01: A prototype interceptor is launched from the Kwajalein Missile Range December 3, 2001 in Hawaii. The United States military has been testing controversial missile defense shields by successfully shooting down a dummy warhead on an intercontinental ballistic missile over the Pacific Ocean. (Photo by Ballistic Missile Defense Organization/Getty Images)
KWAJELEIN, UNITED STATES: To go with'MARSHALL ISLANDS-US' Undated photo shows a missile being launched at Kwajelein atoll on the Marshall islands. FP reports 14 January 2003 that dispute about the rent the United states pays for this testing range is threatening to derail a one billion, 20-year aid package. Foreign Minister Gerald Zackios said that the Kwajalen is a 'make or break' issue for the Marshall Islands. AFP PHOTO/US ARMY (Photo credit should read AFP/AFP/Getty Images)

In the latest incident, the two inert missiles were discovered in wooden crates by bomb-sniffing dogs at Belgrade airport on Saturday, a source at the Serbian prosecutor's office said. They arrived from Beirut on Air Serbia and were due to be put on another flight to go to Portland, Oregon.

"Experts are determining whether the missiles were equipped with live or training warheads ... They were packed in proper transportation crates and supplied with paperwork," the Serbian source said.

However, the first source familiar with the matter described the discovery of the two inert missiles as a "false positive" and said they were never equipped with a warhead.

The Lebanese army also said the Hellfire missiles were training models, without any explosives in them, and that it was returning to the manufacturer.

"They belonged to the Lebanese army, which decided to send them back to the American company that manufactured them upon agreement with it, in accordance with legal and administrative procedures and after training with them had been completed," the Lebanese army said in a statement carried by the National News Agency.

The AGM 114 Hellfire, made by Lockheed Martin, is an air-to-surface missile which can be used against tanks and other armored vehicles. In addition to a version with a high-explosive warhead, the Hellfire is also produced as a practice weapon.

Air Serbia said it was helping with the investigation and that security and safety were its main priorities.

On Sunday, Lockheed spokesman Joe Stout said the company had seen a media report about the missiles in Serbia but had no further information. Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said the missiles did not belong to the U.S. Department of Defense. (Additional reporting by John Davison in Beirut and by Arshad Mohammed and Phil Stewart in Washington)

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