The Chinese military teased a missile test on Monday by alluding to social media accounts of strange activity in the sky over the Bohai Sea and asking, “Do you believe in UFOs?”
Both the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy and Rocket Forces dropped posts on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, which referred to social media chatter about a curious object hurtling through the sky over the Bohai Sea on Sunday.
Access to the area was restricted at the time due to military drills. Many of the Weibo users who posted photos of the white trail in the sky described it as an Unidentified Flying Object or UFO. Sightings of the object followed a path consistent with Chinese long-range missile tests, which usually terminate in the deserts of western China.
PLA Rocket Forces responded on Monday with a photo of a road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missile launcher and asked, “Do you believe in this world there are UFOs?”
The PLA Navy soon followed up with a photo of an underwater missile launch and a nearly identical message: “Do you believe in UFOs?”
Defense experts believe the PLA Navy probably launched the missile seen over the Bohai Sea, as China has been working on a new submarine-launched solid-fuel nuclear-capable missile designated the Julang-3 (JL-3). The first known test launch of the missile occurred in November.
The JL-3 is meant to be carried by China’s next-generation ballistic missile submarine, the Type 096, a platform believed to be on track for sea trials beginning next year. The JL-3 has much greater range than its predecessor, the JL-2, giving Chinese subs the ability to strike targets in Europe and the continental United States while launching from Chinese coastal waters.