On 12 December personnel at the base, as well as in the surrounding areas, had received computerised notifications of the alert, with a missile warning also sounded at Ramstein via a loudspeaker system.
After a brief spell of alarm, an all-clear was given, according to the officials, whose initial assessment was that the incident may have been triggered when highly classified US intelligence satellites detected a launch.
According to the cited sources, satellites tracking the infrared trail of ballistic missiles determined that four intercontinental missiles had been test-fired from a submerged Russian submarine in the Sea of Okhotsk off western Russia on Saturday.
On Monday, a statement by the US military in Europe, cited by the outlet, acknowledged that the US military had "received an alert via a warning notification system of a real-world missile launch. The control centre followed proper procedures and acted in a timely manner to provide rapid and accurate notifications to all required personnel."
Without specifically mentioning a Russian missile launch, the statement from US Air Force Europe-Army Africa says:
"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 centre again followed proper procedures and provided updated notifications. We consistently and routinely monitor for any threats to our forces and our allies."
An official was cited as confirming that Russian military officials had issued a typical "notice to airmen" covering the period when the incident occurred, warning of impending military activity in the designated area.
When the incident initially occurred at the base, the hub’s command issued a statement on its Facebook page to the military community in the area, confirming that Ramstein Air Base Command Post was notified via an alert notification system of a “real-world missile launch in the European theatre”.
It added that “proper procedure” had been carried out and “accurate notifications” issued to personnel in the Kaiserslautern Military Community. The missile launch was quickly assessed to be part of a training exercise and “not a threat to the KMC area”. At the time, no details were released as to what was believed to have triggered the alert.
Nevertheless, a cited US defence official noted the incident was concerning due to there always being potential for miscalculation.
There has not been any comment or official statement from Russian military officials.
The current Ramstein Air Base alert is reminiscent of an incident dating to 13 January 2018, amid a spike in tensions between the United States and North Korea.
An early-morning emergency alert had mistakenly warned of an incoming ballistic missile attack across Hawaii at the time, with an alert dispatched to cellphones by the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency. Although the warning was revoked 38 minutes after it was issued, it triggered widespread panic.
Officials subsequently said the alert was the result of human error, dismissing any speculation of hackers or a foreign government being involved.