The authenticity of a photo showing a high-profile missile launch off the coast of Southern California, despite oddities in the image’s technical data, was confirmed by the Pentagon on Tuesday. According to KTLA 5, there was a photograph posted on the U.S. Strategic Command’s website Monday showing a trident II D-5 ballistic missile launching from the USS Kentucky which is an Ohio-class military submarine. The image was taken Saturday, Nov. 7.
With hundreds across the state reporting a mysterious bright object streaking through the sky, the unarmed Trident missile caused quite a stir Saturday shortly after dusk. The Pentagon released its first images of a missile launch in the Pacific over the weekend that rattled Californians up and down the coast.
Erasing any doubt that what thousands of West Coasters witnessed on Saturday night was an unarmed missile, and not a comet or an alien craft streaking across the sky. The question that remains to be answered: Why? The Washington Post asks that question. Did the Navy think the even would go unnoticed? Did they underestimate social media’s ability to raise the alarm, or did the Navy use the inevitable influence of social media to flex America’s military might for observers in Beijing and Moscow?
According to Loren Thompson, a military analyst who used to teach nuclear strategy at Georgetown University, the Navy finds itself in a tough position. Naval officials can’t make public pronouncements about their tests without risking more attention from foreign spies who are known to linger off the Pacific coast in foreign trawlers in hopes of monitoring military operations.
“However,” Thompson said Monday, “I’m not sure the Navy realized that launching at night next to the L.A. Basin may have attracted such a huge audience. The launch was at about 6 p.m., but if it had occurred several hours earlier or later it would have been a much smaller audience.”
The Navy released a statement saying it had conducted a second Trident II (D5) missile test flight at sea on Monday. The statement noted that both missiles were launched from the Pacific Test Range off the Southern California coast and landed “in the Eastern Missile Range near Kwajalein.”
The visual effects Californians were seeing have been blamed on the time of day. According to John Daniels, a public affairs officer for the Navy’s strategic systems programs, launches that occur during daylight hours resemble a rocket shooting skyward. At night, observers might briefly see a streaking fireball emanating from the rocket engine.
“That big, blueish green hue that everyone saw was a result of just that time of day,” Daniels said, noting that the fading sunlight was reflected from the rocket’s motor. “Had we done it earlier in the day or later in evening you would have still seen the missile, but probably not the same way.”
Saturday Defense Secretary Ashton Carter addressed a defense forum at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley about the U.S. “adapting our operational posture and contingency plans” to deter Russia’s “aggression.”
“We do not seek a cold, let alone a hot, war with Russia,” he said to the forum. “We do not seek to make Russia an enemy. But make no mistake; the United States will defend our interests, our allies, the principled international order, and the positive future it affords us all.”
Global Research reminds us that only two weeks ago the U.S. Navy destroyer the USS Lassen brushed within 12 nautical miles of a couple of freshly built Chinese islands just to anger China. Beijing immediately accused the U.S. of violating its territorial rights, staking its regional claim over the South China Sea’s Spratly Islands. While China threatened military retaliation the next time the U.S. patrols ventured too close, unnamed US government officials defiantly vowed they will do it again claiming free navigational maritime rights since the U.S. refuses to accept the man-made islands as China’s legitimate territory.
Theories about the test launches abound. Many believe the launches are just normal tests. Others suggest that it is posturing with China and Russia. Then there are those who believe it is the prelude to the next world war. With the current truth-challenged administration, one can only speculate.