Lakeland, FL, USA – According to Popular Mechanics, a Florida airport called in the US 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, Kyle Mizokami reported for Popular Mechanics.
Of particular interest to a growing segment of the internet, is that one of the soldiers involved in this possible anti-terrorism activity, is wearing a shirt with a skull similar to the ‘Punisher’ logo which has been appropriated by a patriotic movement known as ‘QAnon’.
The Matra Super 530 is a 1960s-era, obsolete radar-guided missile of French origin. Draken flies the French-made Mirage F1M multi-role fighter, which was equipped with the Matra Super 530 during its military service. It’s not impossible a live 530 was accidentally slipped into a shipment of parts purchased by Draken. Visible markings do not immediately make it clear if there’s a live missile inside.
Still, that would be the case with a rooky employee, but a trained weapons handler wouldn’t have had issues with recognizing the adequate markings. According to Military Times, explosive ordnance disposal techs from the 6th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal at MacDill Air Force Base retrieved the missile.
The techs then secured the missile to the back of a flatbed truck and took it to their base for destruction.
“Our EOD team went out and secured the missile,” Air Force 1st Lt. Brandon Hanner, a spokesman for the 6th Air Refueling Wing, told Military Times. “It was live, but unarmed.”
Hanner said he was told the missile was “like having a gun with bullet in chamber, but on safety. Someone would have to arm the missile to fire it.”
This is the second time in two years the military confiscated a wayward Super Matra 530 from civilians. In 2019, Italian police seized another missile from a criminal gang.
In an article covering that seizure, The Aviationist wrote that a red band on the protective canister is a universal symbol, meaning there’s an explosive warhead on the missile inside, while a yellow band indicates a real rocket motor. Like the Italian missile canister, the Florida canister clearly is painted with both red and yellow bands.
Draken officials told Military Times that “in the process of evaluating shipments to Draken International’s Lakeland facility” its team “discovered an object with questionable markings indicating it may be explosive.”
“Adhering to the explosive safety rule of exposing the minimum amount of people for the minimum amount of time to a potential explosive hazard, we made the decision to evacuate the facility, inform our surrounding tenants and contact the appropriate authorities as soon as possible,” Draken officials said in a statement. “Those authorities responded quickly, rapidly assessed the situation, and followed their proven protocols. Draken International takes our role in all of the communities we operate in seriously and we have long-standing operating procedures to ensure we perform safely and reliably every day.”
Possible false flag
Lakeland is less than 150 miles of flight distance from Palm Beach, where President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort is located. Draken International flies the French-made Mirage F1M fighters, which were equipped with the Matra Super 530 during their military service.
F1’s combat range and the capability to fire the French-made air-to-air missile certainly make it possible to fly the jet to Palm Beach and fire the Super 530 within the missile’s 25-mile operational radius, while Trump was aboard the Air Forces One. And although the idea of this taking place might seem preposterous, the Sunday night incident when a drone nearly collided with Trump’s jet certainly makes it possible.