The Pentagon says it’s trying to figure out whether a missile was launched off the coast of southern California and who might have launched it.
Officials with the navy, air force, Defence Department and North American Aerospace Defence Command say they are looking into a video posted on the website of Southern California television station KFMB.
The video appears to show a rocket or some other object shooting up into the sky and leaving a large contrail over the Pacific Ocean.
Pentagon spokesman Colonel Dave Lapan said Tuesday that officials can’t confirm that there was a launch and if there was, by whom. He says officials are talking to civilian and defence authorities who control and monitor air space.
“Nobody within the Department of Defence that we’ve reached out to has been able to explain what this contrail is, where it came from,” Col. Lapan said.
Col. Lapan said that “all indications” are that the Department of Defence was not involved with the mystery object, and that the contrail might have been created by something flown by a private company.
Normally any missile test would require notification so that mariners and pilots could be warned or air space closed, but that may not have been done in this case, Col. Lapan said.
“It does seem implausible, and that’s why at this point the operative term is ‘unexplained,’” he said. “Nobody … within the Department of Defence that we’ve reached out to has been able to explain what this contrail is.”
Missile tests are common off Southern California. Launches are conducted from vessels and platforms on an ocean range west of Point Mugu.
The North American Aerospace Defence Command, or NORAD, issued a statement jointly with the U.S. Northern Command, or NORTHCOM, saying that the contrail was not the result of a foreign military launching a missile. It provided no further details.
“We can confirm that there is no threat to our nation, and from all indications this was not a launch by a foreign military,” the statement said. “We will provide more information as it becomes available.”
NORTHCOM is the U.S. defence command and NORAD is a U.S.-Canadian organization charged with protecting the U.S. from the threat of missiles or hostile aircraft.