Mystery Light Trail Likely Result of Missile Test

May 21, 2014, 6:14 AM HST · Updated May 21, 2:31 PM
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Zig-zagging lights over Maui. Photo by Liz Goss.

Zig-zagging lights over Maui. Photo by Liz Goss.

By Wendy Osher

**UPDATE: Click here to see photos of the missile test over Hawaii.

A mysterious zig-zag light was visible over Maui at around sunset on Tuesday, prompting a variety of theories on its source and origin. This morning, it appears that it was a contrail from a missile test off the shores of Kauaʻi at the Pacific Missile Range Facility.

The US Department of Defense has confirmed that the Missile Defense Agency, the US Navy, and sailors at the Aegis Ashore Missile Defense Test Complex and Pacific Missile Range Facility, successfully conducted the first flight test involving components of the Aegis Ashore system.

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According to defense officials, a simulated ballistic missile target was acquired, tracked, and engaged during the test by the Aegis Weapon System.

The test was conducted at approximately 7:35 p.m. HST on May 20, right around the time that we received multiple reports of the strange light in the skies over Maui.  Reports also surfaced through other media outlets across the state.

According to information released by the US Department of Defense, “The Aegis Weapon System fired a Standard Missile (SM)-3 Block IB guided missile from the Vertical Launch System. Several fire control and engagement functions were exercised during the test. A live target missile launch was not planned for this flight test.”

The primary purpose of the test was to confirm the functionality of Aegis Ashore by launching a land-based SM-3.  The Aegis Ashore program is a deployable system that is expected to be installed in Romania in 2015, and in Poland in 2018.

Photo by David Stoller Whitney.

Photo by David Stoller Whitney.

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