A live, unarmed French S-530 air-to-air missile was found at Florida’s Lakeland Linder International Airport (LAL) last Friday, prompting a four-hour evacuation of the southeast side of the airport. The missile was part of a shipment delivered to defense contractor Draken International. LAL-based Draken operates a fleet approximately 150 tactical ex-military fighter jets, providing contract air services at locations across the U.S. and internationally.
“In the process of evaluating shipments to Draken International’s Lakeland facility, our team discovered an object with questionable markings indicating it may be explosive,” Draken International said in a statement. “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.”
The 6th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team was dispatched from MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, to secure the missile. The EOD team was assisted by the Lakeland Fire Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). The missile was transported to a munitions storage facility at MacDill, where it will be held until it can be safely disposed of.