Wednesday, 30 January 2008
Weapons of mass destruction
Bari, Italy, Tuesday:
Italian authorities were checking a lorry which had just come off a boat from Patras, Greece. It was full of the usual cargo: loads of oranges, a couple of wooden boxes containing Amraam air-to-air missiles...
Erm, sorry, you did say missiles?
Madre de Dio!
The driver explained that he'd picked up the boxes at the Andravida airbase in Greece. The Italian authorities, excited that they'd foiled a terrorist plan to try and smuggle the missiles, immediately got on the blower to the Greek Air Force. Who were understandably put into a state of panic as they tried to work out whether they'd mislaid the odd deadly weapon or two.
It would be interesting to see just how well organised and efficient the Greek (or any other) Air Force are when it comes to keeping track of their missiles. I don't know, but I'm guessing that there was a lot of frantic checking and counting going on. And some top brass spending rather more time than usual in the Gents.
It's not clear what the perpetrators were supposed to be doing with these air to air missiles. Unless they'd previously smuggled out the odd Phantom II (F-4) jet, or an F-16. Which aren't so easy to hide amongst a load of oranges.
After many hours of alarm and panic, it turned out that the cargo was being shipped to defence contractor EADS in Germany, and that the missiles were actually iron replicas, identical in size and weight to the real thing, which are carried by jets on test flights. They'd been in Greece for some such tests.
I think what I love about this story is the incongruity of missiles amongst a lorry load of oranges. For some reason I have a picture in my head of an air strike, with jets flying low and unloading their terrible arsenal - of citrus fruit. Though it wouldn't be a joke if you got hit on the head by some.
Nevertheless I think that it would be great if the world's military could replace all their soul-less, metal bullets, missiles, bombs, etc. with more edible weapons. It would be a terrible waste when some of the world's population are starving, but it would be the ultimate food fight, and might save lives in the long run.
I can see the future President of the US boarding Air Force 1, along with the special Briefcase. The one that contains all of the launch codes, which one terrible day he (or she) with heavy heart (or drunk, maybe) will use in defence of Freedom to launch the country's custard pies.