Wonderful: Military not sure yet who fired “big missile” off California coast; Update: Airplane?

posted at 1:05 pm on November 9, 2010 by Allahpundit

I’m at a loss. Three obvious possibilities:

(1) It’s one of ours but is being officially denied because it’s part of some secret operation. If that’s true, though, why launch it so close to the coast where people will see it and buzz about it? Alternately, if (as speculated in the first clip below) it’s a show of strength to China or Asia generally, why not do it further out in the Pacific? You’re not showing much strength if you’re firing it off in your own backyard. And in fact, one military official says that an exercise like that wouldn’t be held so close to a population center.

(2) It’s a commercial rocket. Given the size and location of the thing, though, wouldn’t we already have an idea of who the culprit was? Presumably there’s a short list of commercial entities capable of boosting a bird that big. And if it was fired from a land-based platform, surely someone had to have seen the launch preparations. So why the confusion today?

(3) It’s one of theirs. If it did come from the water and it’s really not a U.S. operation, then presumably it’s from an enemy sub. Relations with China have been souring, and they’ve made their opposition to American naval influence in Asia increasingly clear. Maybe this was a message to The One while he’s in their backyard shoring up alliances that China’s navy is stronger than thought? Wouldn’t be the first time a Chinese ship has surprised the U.S. Navy with its stealth, and Chinese advances in missile tech have been in the news of late. I don’t buy this theory either, though: Firing a missile within 35 miles of L.A., where it’s sure to be seen by the public and thus designed to embarrass the U.S. military, would be provocative in the extreme. Why now, when Hu Jintao just finished making plans to visit the White House early next year?

Danger Room is pumping its military sources hard for info but has nothing thus far, and if you watch the NBC clip below, Jim Miklaszewski sure does seem to believe that the Pentagon’s surprise about this is in earnest. All theories are welcome!

Update: Headlines comments imported.

Update: A commenter on CBS’s post claims that there was some sort of U.S. military notification issued in advance of the launch. In that case, though, why all the difficulty today getting confirmation?

Update: An awful lot of people in the know seem to think that this was indeed some type of rocket, but at least a few experts think this might be the contrail from an airplane that only looks vertical because of an optical illusion. Meanwhile, Cuffy Meigs notes that military missile tests have indeed originated from that area in the recent past — although, of course, that doesn’t explain why the Pentagon seems so baffled this morning.

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Two words:

Dick Frickin Cheney.

SlaveDog on November 9, 2010 at 5:11 PM

Two words:

Dick Frickin Cheney.

SlaveDog on November 9, 2010 at 5:11 PM

In case you didn’t read/listen/watch the news, playing the race card didn’t work any better than trying to blame everyone else for the Democrat sponsored Debacles which led up to the 2010 HISTORIC rout of your preferred candidates. I guess you are still forced to be a slave Dog to the same old 0bamaGanda though, eh? ;o)

DannoJyd on November 9, 2010 at 5:19 PM

favorite comment thus far …

xbradtc says:
November 9, 2010 at 1:49 pm
What the hell does a Pentagon spokesman know? He’s just talking out his ass.

BrideOfRove on November 9, 2010 at 5:21 PM

Obama wants to know whether this is a good or bad thing, so he can decide whether to take credit or blame Bush.

Midas on November 9, 2010 at 5:22 PM

cktheman and I will take your apologies in this thread tomorrow.

pseudonominus on November 9, 2010 at 5:23 PM

Additional Video

Ugly on November 9, 2010 at 5:24 PM

I just got out of work and boy do things get interesting when I don’t have access to the Internet.

Maybe its a top secret supersoinic jet?

I’ve heard conspiracy theory nuts talk about a project known as Aurora project…

It is possible we’ve got top a secret plane that can travel at speeds not currently known to the public?

Conservative Samizdat on November 9, 2010 at 5:35 PM

Conservative Samizdat on November 9, 2010 at 5:38 PM

Update Posted: It’s a plane.

Egfrow on November 9, 2010 at 5:48 PM

CBS got us again. Fake but fake.

Egfrow on November 9, 2010 at 5:49 PM

CBS was doing a preview of the 2012 presidential campaign. They thought it was an Obamarocket, but it was just his last 300 supporters in the universe going into LAX out of gas.

percysunshine on November 9, 2010 at 6:11 PM

Communist Red China launched the ICBM off our coast in international waters as a rebuke to our Kenyan Communist Muslim-In-Chief who has been wheedling China to stop manipulating the Chinese yuan, yen, dong, whatever their Monopoly money is called. Seriously. This is February 2001 off Hainan Island, Commieland all over again.

Kenyan-In-Chief: “The Chinese acted stupidly (who can I kaotow to?)”

DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano: “The system worked”

Sec State Hillary Clinton: “The Chinese must have pushed the launch button, not the re-set button”

Vice Pres Joey Biden: “mark my words, Obama is going to be tested by a rogue foreign power and tested soon”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Left Coast): “this is all Bush’s fault”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Corrupt State): “the war is lost. We must surrender immediately to the Chinese.”

President Ronald Reagan (if he was still alive and in office): “We begin bombing in 15 minutes…”

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-Noo Yawk): “this is yet more proof that we need to ban guns and disarm America”

CatchAll on November 9, 2010 at 7:29 PM

Its Inflation!

johnnyU on November 9, 2010 at 5:08 PM

Good one!

FloatingRock on November 9, 2010 at 8:09 PM

Which airplane? Name the flight…should be easy. They hav e the when and where.

JIMV on November 9, 2010 at 8:30 PM

CatchAll on November 9, 2010 at 7:29 PM

Are you an actual press agent in D.C.?

TugboatPhil on November 9, 2010 at 9:04 PM

My post updated with this just-released, full-throated Pentagon denial:

The Dept. of Defense statement from Col. Dave Lapan, the Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, reads:

“While there is nothing at this time that leads the Department of Defense to believe this is a missile launch, the department and other U.S. government agencies with expertise in aviation and space continue to look into the condensation trail (CONTRAIL) seen and reported off the coast of southern California on Monday evening.

“All DoD entities with rocket and missile programs reported no launches, scheduled or inadvertent, during the time period in the area of the reported contrail. NORAD and USNORTHCOM confirmed that it did not monitor any foreign military missile launch off the California coast yesterday and has determined that there was no threat to the US homeland.

“In addition, the FAA ran radar replays from Monday afternoon of a large area west of Los Angeles. Those replays did not reveal any fast-moving, unidentified targets. The FAA also did not receive reports of any unusual sightings from pilots who were flying in the area Monday afternoon.

“If any new information comes to light in the coming days, we will update the press and public.”

Cuffy Meigs on November 9, 2010 at 10:12 PM

CatchAll on November 9, 2010 at 7:29 PM
Are you an actual press agent in D.C.?
TugboatPhil on November 9, 2010 at 9:04 PM

Two words; hell and no.

CatchAll on November 9, 2010 at 11:38 PM

I don’t know enough about missiles to say exactly what that was…but here’s what I do know.

If that was an airplane the the Pentagon closed the airspace the next day (they did) to investigate. If it took them a full 24 hours to realize that was an airplane. If they still cannot provide radar images along with a flight number to prove what they are now saying…then something is wrong.

Something is very wrong. There was no NOTAM before this event. Only after. This wasn’t our guys.

Dorvillian on November 10, 2010 at 3:26 PM

Pretty much everything has already been said. That propellant trail is not the ice crystal contrail of an airplane, it is absoltely from a missile/rocket launch. It is also far too large to be air launched. That pretty much leaves a sub-launched ICBM. In the first video, there is a segement that shows an apparent stage separation. That’s a big missile.

Freelancer on November 10, 2010 at 4:52 PM

Sorry, but the idea of a foreign submarine going into a instrumented US Navy testing range, launching a ballistic missile somewhere, just defies belief.

There are so many US Navy assets in that area, and if a sub went in there and launched a missile, it would be known exactly what it was, and you would have seen a mass swarming of naval assets looking around there.

And that would have been a much faster launching too, that object certainly did not travel at ICBM missile speeds. not to mention hundreds of aircraft would have seen something rising up like that.

That same US Air flight left a similar contrail the next day too.

firepilot on November 10, 2010 at 6:04 PM