US military satellites detected four missile launches from Russian submarines from the Sea of Okhotsk off Russia’s Far East on Saturday, triggering an alarm at the US military airbase in Germany.
Officials later confirmed that the alarm was false and had gone off as Russia tested its ballistic missiles. “Today, the Ramstein Air Base Command Post was notified via an alert notification system of a real-world missile launch in the European theater,” the airbase said in a statement posted on Facebook.
“The Command Post followed proper procedure and provided timely and accurate notifications to personnel in the Kaiserslautern Military Community,” it said. The statement added that the missile launch was “then assessed to be part of a training exercise and not a threat to the KMC area. The situation is all clear.”
Meanwhile, the Russian Defense Ministry, on Sunday, announced the success of the test launch of four Bulava nuclear-tipped missiles from Vladimir Monomakh nuclear submarine that was conducted a day before in the Sea of Okhotsk, the western Pacific Ocean.
The dummy warheads hit their targets in the Arkhangelsk region in northwestern Russia more than 3,400 miles away, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement, according to Associated Press.
The ministry also posted a video of the launch:
US Strategic Command was able to quickly confirm the missiles posed no threat, so it is not clear why the warning was triggered, said a CNN report citing officials. The report added quoting an unnamed official that such an incident is “concerning because there is always a potential for miscalculation given tensions with Russia,” although there was no indication of a threat this time.
“No US aircraft or pilots were scrambled. The missile launch was determined to be part of a regional training exercise and within minutes the control center again followed proper procedures and provided updated notifications. We consistently and routinely monitor for any threats to our forces and our allies,” the statement from US Air Force Europe-Army Africa said.
Mikhail Khodarenok, a retired colonel from the Russian armed forces and a military commentator for RT.com, called the US media reports as “greatly exaggerated.” He pointed out that Russia and the US give one another an advanced notice of at least 24 hours before every intercontinental ballistic missile test.
He added that the procedure for doing so is specifically set out in an international treaty named the memorandum of understanding and was duly followed by Russia. “During the exercises over the weekend, Russia followed this process and warned the US well in advance of the missile launches from submarines in the Sea of Okhotsk, off Russia’s Pacific Coast,” he wrote.
He called the report unrealistic emphasizing that the US early warning system does not simply detect the launch – based on initial data, it also calculates the missile’s trajectory, its flight time, and approximate target location so would have determined them not to be a threat almost immediately.