UFO scares are the price we pay for secret missile tests, expert says – Los Angeles Times

Missile tests like the one the Navy performed off the coast of Southern California on Saturday night present military officials with something of a conundrum.

On the one hand, said Loren Thompson, a military analyst with the Lexington Institute, the military needs to give local aviation officials enough information as to the time and place of an upcoming test to ensure no planes are in the area.

But at the same time, the military is determined to keep tests shrouded in secrecy in order to thwart any efforts by potential adversaries – namely Russia and China – to monitor the missile launch and flight, Thompson said.

The confusion and social media uproar that erupted Saturday night as a mysterious white cone of light coursed across the night sky is an unfortunate but necessary tradeoff, Thompson added.

The need for secrecy was all the more important given the type of weapon the Navy launched Saturday from a submarine, according to Thompson.

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The Trident II (D5) missile is a centerpiece of the U.S. military’s ability to deter a nuclear attack and modernizing the weapon is a top priority, he said.

Knowing in advance that a Trident was going to be tested would give prying eyes, for example sailors on a Russian submarine positioned in the Pacific, the ability to gather valuable information, Thompson said.

Tracking its trajectory, speed, electromagnetic emissions and other characteristics in real time could provide insights into potential vulnerabilities, Thompson said.

This is especially true during the first stage of flight, the “boost phase,” when the missile’s rockets are firing and the weapon is most susceptible to attack, Thompson added.

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