Pentagon Can’t Explain ‘Missile’ Off California Coast

LOS ANGELES (CBS 5 / AP) — The Pentagon said Tuesday it did not know what created a vapor trail that crossed the skies off the Southern California coast and resembled a missile launch.

Pentagon officials were stumped by the event. They were trying to determine if a missile was launched Monday night and, if so, who might have fired it.

Spokesmen for the U.S. Navy, Air Force, and other military organizations said they were looking into the video shot by a CBS News helicopter in Los Angeles that showed an object shooting across the sky and leaving a large contrail, or vapor trail, over the Pacific Ocean.

While the vapor cloud captured on video resembled that created by a rocket in flight, military officials said they didn’t know of any launches in the area.

Pentagon spokesman Col. Dave Lapan said that “all indications” are that the U.S. Department of Defense 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, 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 Defense that we’ve reached out to has been able to explain what this contrail is.”

Missile tests are common off the coast of Southern California. Launches are conducted from vessels and platforms on an ocean range west of Point Mugu.

One expert called it an optical illusion. “It’s an airplane that is heading toward the camera and the contrail is illuminated by the setting sun,” said John Pike, director of the U.S.-based security analyst group Global Security.

The North American Aerospace Defense 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. defense command and NORAD is a U.S.-Canadian organization charged with protecting North America from the threat of missiles or hostile aircraft.

Pike said the object could not have been a rocket because it appeared to alter its course.

“At one place (in the video) you can see it has changed course — rockets don’t do that,” he said.

Pike added that he didn’t understand why the military had not recognized the contrail of an aircraft. “The Air Force must understand how contrails are formed,” he explained. “Why they can’t get some major out to belabor the obvious, I don’t know.”

(Copyright 2010 by CBS Broadcasting Inc. and The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Comments

One Comment

  1. curious onlooker says:

    I saw a video on you tube of another one of these unknown launches from December 31 2009, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DaCTP-i7tX8 almost the exact footage of a missile launch that was from unknown origins and the same area. What in the world is going on? Our government doesn’t know where this giant came from? I don’t think so… don’t want us to know… most likely.

  2. Phyton Maxx says:

    so what the heck was it?

  3. BoB Lime says:

    Anyone that says that is a plane is lying, anyone that believes them is an idiot.

  4. george flores says:

    your helicopter should have gone out to the point where this missle was launched!

  5. Avg Joe says:

    You are crazy. Don’t believe everything you see on the internet, but but its recorded. Check your camera.

    But it’s the Congressional committee.

    But these people know the program and was hired.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/14/AR2009051401982.html

    http://articles.latimes.com/2003/jun/04/local/me-pellicano4

    http://articles.latimes.com/keyword/anthony-pellicano

    What ever happened to you, it not this and unrelated. But I have the camera, digital voice, IP analyzer, chemical stains, paper trails … etc etc.

  6. Ryan Lewis says:

    This was a classified test, and the Government checked the Airspace surrounding the test before hand, we the People are on a “need to know” basis only.

  7. Bob says:

    If some random guy would have videoed this, it would be called a fake you didnt see anything, end of story.

    Probably just another day of secret military operations, there goes another 100 million $, hope you enjoyed the show.

  8. Jeff says:

    It was a missile exercise by the US Navy.

    KZLA LOS ANGELES (ARTCC)PALMDALE, CA.

    A2832/10 NOTAMN A) KZLA B) 1011092000 C) 1011100100
    E) THE FOLLOWING RESTRICTIONS ARE REQUIRED DUE TO NAVAL AIR
    WARFARE CENTER WEAPONS DIVISION ACTIVATION OF W537.
    IN THE INTEREST OF SAFETY, ALL NON-PARTICIPATING PILOTS
    ARE ADVISED TO AVOID W537. IFR TRAFFIC UNDER ATC JURISDICTION
    SHOULD ANTICIPATE CLEARANCE AROUND W537 AND CAE 1176.
    CAE 1155 WILL NOT BE AVAILABLE FOR OCEANIC TRANSITION.
    CAE 1316 & CAE 1318 WILL NOT BE AVAILABLE FOR OCEANIC TRANSITION.
    CAE 1177 WILL BE AVAILABLE FOR OCEANIC TRANSITION.
    W537 ACTIVE, CAE 1176 CLOSED.
    F) SURFACE G) FL390

    1. Pete F says:

      If you draw a straight line from where the video was shot (LA harbor) across Pt. Fermin (the hill in the foreground) to the contrail, you end up exactly intersecting San Nicolas island. That’s a NAVY missile testing facility.

    2. PeteF says:

      That’s today not yesterday and W537 is too far north (it’s behind the northern channel islands). The launch was located on San Nicolas but no NOTAM appears to have been issued.

    3. Ken says:

      I thought I saw an airplane in the video clip about half way thru. Kinda sets one to the a few years back when flt. 800 went down. The first thing that was reported by the news was, “there was a navy destroyer in the area of flt. taking off an it was believed that the navy was doing a test firing of a ship to air rocket\missile and that it went rogue”. Kinda looks like that is what almost happened here but the airliner in the video may have been flying in the wrong direction for the heat seeking device to track it (the Airliner). Makes one wonder who was on that plane, if that is what seems to be present in the shout video…..

  9. why says:

    That looks like a solid rocket trail just like the shuttle. I say it was a dry run… Put a scud on a freighter and see what kind of response the US gives. Next time put a small nuke, air burst it and watch the west coast go dark from the EMP.

  10. jano says:

    100% it is USO – pls check it

  11. Renee Springs says:

    Wow….

  12. Cyberspy says:

    How long did the news helicopter shoot whatever this is for? Lets see the whole unedited video of this “missile launch” from start to finish.

    1. Spike says:

      swamp gas being disturbed by the prop wash from the helicopter…

  13. bob says:

    it was a weather balloon… duh!

  14. 26charlie says:

    San Francisco Swamp Grass

  15. Charles says:

    Could potentially be a terrorist spy drone or an unidentified flying object…

  16. jorge tejada says:

    this morning I was driving to work around 4am south bound on san mateo california on I-280 when I saw a meteor going down on that direction of the sky it was going down faster then normal it was red and yellow colors in the back

  17. U.F.O says:

    Check wikileaks they might have some info!

  18. anonymous says:

    first all you people open your eyes and be subjective not objective think whatever it was, wherever it lands, and most important however did whatever it was if happen in American soil, worst think the government don’t know nothing it is happening again the government it’s losing that the power to deal with inside and outside treats my opinion looks like a missile for what purpose to scare us all for what reason we’ll knew it in a few hours or maybe never but the truth it’s that happen be prepare for the worse or the best

    1. Joe Mamma says:

      How about we prepare for you to use some punctuation in your dribble? You’re a moron – plain and simple.

  19. Thomasi says:

    Everyone scroll back and look at PeteF’s comments re San Nicolas Island. He nailed it. This was a Navy test (or else, gasp, a Navy error) and they simply don’t want to own it publicly. Whether or not the test was successful, who can say, but the P.R. fallout is a bad botch.

  20. firebrain says:

    “Did I just push the launch button?!” OH $H1T!!!

  21. canaryinamine says:

    This is serious folks. This isn’t a ‘contrail.’ This isn’t an UFO. This was potentially a test firing of a Chinese, Russian or terrorist short-range missile in US territorial waters. Why weren’t any jets scrambled?
    If this was a contrail then that airplane would surely show up on at least two airports’ radar records, not to mention some ATC would’ve known precisely where that plane was.
    @Cyberspy
    Yes, where is the entire UNEDITED video?
    Why is it getting harder and harder to find the actual VIDEO on the internet, not just still shots?
    @george flores
    I agree!! Why didn’t the KCBS copter fly out to the site?? 35 miles at 100kia it would’ve only taken them 19 mins to reach the site and either debunk this or have a huge story.
    The Government knows what happened, friendly or enemy fire. They are keeping it under wraps to quell any panic or bad media attention for the current administration.
    This needs some serious investigation.

  22. Mel says:

    Far out, the mystical potato head groove thing is cool man

  23. Obama says:

    you guys are all complete idiots

  24. crash says:

    The lauch everyone saw was the test lauch of an arears intercepter rocket used by the usaf; the sysetem was part of the star wars program. most of the time it is fired of an island in the pacific. My guess is it was cheeper to shot it from there and save on the budget and not ship it to the island.

  25. techie guy says:

    That was obviously NOT an aircraft contrail nor is it an optical illusion. Just how dumb does the US Gov’t think people are? Don’t trust your lying eyes and your cameras are playing tricks on you.
    The Navy or US Military is obviously testing again off the coast of California else officials would be all over this to fine whomever was responsible for this. Instead, just hush, hush and we don’t know what this is is the message. … Come on…
    Let’s see…. this is just speculation though …. Obama coincidentally in trip to Asia …him speaking softly…. is this the BIG STICK that we are wagging ?… and Who are we wagging this BIG STICK at?

  26. Ghe Cuevara says:

    It-s china

  27. Chris says:

    Either John Pike is an idiot, or he thinks everybody else is and he’s trying to cover something up.

  28. jj says:

    rocket can’t stop and remains in same place

  29. Dean says:

    It was a weather balloon with a flare on the back of it.

  30. ned says:

    Government knows what it is or what it was. But they won’t REALLY tell the truth.

  31. Glenn Y. says:

    DON’T WORRY! IT IS PROBALLY JUST TERRORISTS PRACTICING AGAIN ! AFTER ALL ! THEY SAY “THE UNITED STATES WAS IN NO DANGER”
    I GUESS IF SOMEBODY HAS A HEADBAND AND A BOX CUTTER ON A PLANE YOU’RE NOT TO WORRY ABOUT THAT EITHER !
    i THOUGHT THE UNITED STATES COAST GUARD WAS TO GUARD OUR COASTS ! OUR UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES DON’T KNOW ?
    SPEAKING OF THAT SEPTEMBER 11 , 2001 , WHERE WERE OUR ARMED FORCES ?, HAWAII OR JAPAN MAYBE ? “TO DEFEND THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA FROM ALL THREATS BOTH FOREIGN AND DOMESTIC.” I THOUGHT THAT WAS IN THIER OATHS ! AFTER ALL ,HOW DO 1 TO 3 PEOPLE WITH BOX CUTTERS TAKE OVER A JET WITH 200 TO 300 PASSENGERS ? IF ONLY TWO OR THREE OF UNITED STATES CITIZENS HAD A HANDGUN WITH A COUPLE WELL PLACED SHOTS , THE TWIN TOWERS WOULD BE STILL STANDING , THE PENTAGON WOULD STILL BE INTACT AND ALL FLIGHTS WOULD HAVE REACHED THIER DESTINATIONS ! THEY SAY “MEASURES HAVE BEEN TAKEN TO PREVENT IT FROM HAPPENING AGAIN ! “CLOSE THE GATE AFTER THE HORSE RUNS OUT” NOW MISTLES OR WHATEVER IT WAS DO NOT WORRY !
    “WE CHECKED AND NOBODY KNOWS ANYTHING ABOUT IT . WOULD THEY ADMIT TO IT ?

  32. Mark T. says:

    It sure looks like a contrail to me!

  33. Herman says:

    It was the Easter Bunny

  34. buffalomamma says:

    C’mon to all you locals…no one else took video of this?!

  35. Lljarrett11 says:

    obviously had it not been for the media helii video it would have never been publically known

  36. Framwinkle says:

    Can we just see the raw, unedited video? PLEASE? The way it’s cut up into bites only a few seconds long makes it impossible to tell what it really is. If this was a plane, it should have become blindingly obvious a short while later as it flew over the city. Did no one continue to watch this thing to see where it went?

  37. Iowa_Sailor says:

    There are very few single engine planes that would leave a contrail like this. You would be able to see the multiple contrails from a multi engine plane, if it was a plane’s contrail.

  38. jj says:

    if norad can’t o wan’t explain … who say the truth: … nobody! … i think this is a secret weapon or propulsion experiment that fail … look up american people … this guys are danger

  39. Submariner Sam says:

    This seems very probably a message from China to the USA by way of our respective militaries.
    .
    China goes straight to the top of any list of Likely Suspects. First, the US Navy recently conducted naval exercises (war games) in North Korean waters practically off China’s front porch, an insult to Chinese national pride. Next, as the second largest holder of US debt, the Chinese have much to lose from our recent financial moves. They’ve always been afraid we would inflate our way out of debt to them. Believing this on their horizon, they want to put something scary on ours. What cool heads realize however is that any damage they can do can will only make it more difficult to repay them. Ah, the impotence of power!

    As for Mr. John Pike, anyone who’s ever seen seen a NASA rocket launch knows exactly what a rocket launch looks like. By calling this an optical illusion from a vapor trail, this “expert” makes himself look like his credentials came from a box of Cracker Jacks. Furthermore, to say rockets don’t change course is to reveal an ignorance of rocketry having progressed a bit since the War of 1812 when Francis Scott Key wrote of rockets’ red glare and bombs bursting in air, etc. Can we Pikey a “Not As Smart As A Third Grader” award? I expect my tax dollars to pay for better lies than that!

  40. Buzzdawg says:

    It’s a missile not a contrial or maybe Santa ?

  41. ransomed81 says:

    Another missile seen going up this morning from same general area as the last one seen in Nov. 2010. Noticed at 7:45 a.m. Went way up high, then seen coming down at an angle with a white trail behind it- both directions! What’s the explanation for this one??

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