The unidentified flying objects spotted in January off Newfoundland remain a mystery to the government, despite extensive scrutiny, according to Department of National Defence (DND) documents obtained by CBC News.
The documents contain grainy images of a rocket with a long, fiery tail soaring skyward. The reports rule out missiles and model rockets, but don't suggest what the images might show.
Military experts discredit the possibility of ballistic and cruise missiles. DND's Directorate of Scientific and Technical Intelligence (DSTI) assessed the images and reported: "The object is not a ballistic missile, not a cruise missile in boost phase nor a cruise missile in-flight phase. It is also not a licensed model rocket launcher."
The Jan. 25 sighting happened on the southern coast of Newfoundland near Harbour Mille. Several residents reported seeing the objects, including a woman who was able to photograph one of them. She reported to the RCMP that she had seen three missiles soaring over the ocean and it looked as if they had come up out of the water.
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The DSTI says in the documents that the only missiles that can be launched from a submarine are ballistic or cruise missiles, but the country's top arms experts say the object photographed doesn't fit that profile.
"There are no distinguishing features on the object to use for identification … the shape of the flame is atypical of a missile launch," and "the length of the flame is greater than that of the rocket body. This eliminates the possibility that it is a cruise missile jet engine exhaust," said DSTI.
Undetected by Norad
The documents also note that it is the responsibility of the North American Aerospace Defence Command (Norad) to "provide aerospace warning and defence for North America," and that neither that agency, nor Canada Command, had any information on the rockets.
"NORAD and [Canada Command] have no evidence to support this sighting" reads the report.
The RCMP conducted an investigation, but according to the Jan. 28 report, the police didn't have an answer either.
"The RCMP … is calling the event an unexplained sighting."
The documents also say there were no navy ships involved, and no Canadian Forces missile exercises at the time.
The government has blocked nine pages and a several paragraphs of the UFO documents from public release.
One of the lines leading into a blocked-out portion reads, "Media reporting has linked the sightings to …"
At the time there was speculation the rockets may have come from a French submarine near St-Pierre-Miquelon, since a few days later the French government announced test-fires of its new M51 ballistic missiles were successful.
In a phone call Friday, however, the Directorate General of Armament for France said that the ballistic test-fires took place on Jan. 27, and not on Jan. 25, the day of the sightings off Newfoundland.
It is not clear if new information was uncovered about the UFO sighting since Feb. 1, as that date marked the closing time frame for the Access to Information request.
CBC News is awaiting the Department of Public Safety's response to the question of whether or not the UFO was eventually identified.