I was at a 5K in Temecula when I saw it: a giant orb of light, shooting across the sky before settling in one spot and imploding into a sheer grey cloud of smoke.
Where the light had streaked across the sky appeared a green residue.
“Was that a UFO?” I asked, half joking.
Alas, it was not. The sighting of the light, seen all over Southern California, including in Long Beach at around 6:00PM, was the product of a navy missile test, according to the military.
Loren Thompson, a military analyst with the Lexington Institute, a public policy think tank based in Arlington, Virginia, said the navy launched a Trident II missile from a submarine Saturday night. They gave no prior warning to the SoCal populace in order to keep the testing confidential, especially to hide it from the monitoring of Russia and China, Thompson said.
According to Thompson, the Trident II missile is at the centerpiece of U.S. strategy in thwarting a nuclear attack, and modernizing it is a top priority.
Keeping the test information confidential, while confusing and at time alarming to residents (causing a “social media storm”), may also have prevented Russia and China from tracking its trajectory speed, electromagnetic emissions and other characteristics in real time, providing insights into potential vulnerabilities, according to Thompson.
“The Russians and Chinese would have great interest in finding ways to defeat this type of missile,” Thompson said.
Beyond clearing up the airspace with neighboring airports, the missile test was shrouded in secrecy among residents. Guesses on what caused the light ranged from shooting starts, to UFOs and more.
Videos courtesy of Long Beach Post reader Irene Russell.
City News Service contributed to this report.