U.S. says Chinese ship fired laser at American aircraft

01 Mars, 2020, 03:06 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • U.S. says Chinese ship fired laser at American aircraft

The U.S. Pacific Fleet said in a statement that a Chinese ship trained the laser on the American P-8A Poseidon aircraft in an "unsafe" and "unprofessional manner", while the P-8 was operation "in global airspace in accordance with worldwide rules and regulations". The PRC navy destroyer's actions were deemed unsafe and unprofessional.

As my colleague Franz-Stefan Gady discussed on Friday, a Poseidon P-8A maritime surveillance aircraft belonging to the U.S. Navy was targeted with what U.S. officials described as a "military grade" laser.

"Weapon grade lasers could cause serious damage to the air crew and sailors, as well as to ship and aircraft systems", Pacific Fleet said in the statement.

The Navy further noted that the Chinese destroyer violated an agreement between the Department of Defense and China's ministry of defense on how maritime encounters should be handled.

Military-grade laser beams, also known as "dazzlers", can be used to illuminate cockpits and can cause temporary blindness. It's not clear if the pilots of the PA-8 suffered temporarily blindness.

The Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group transits the Pacific Ocean Jan. 25 2020. The Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group is on a scheduled deployment to the Indo-Pacific

The incident is the latest in a string of encounters with Chinese ships in the region, as China seeks to expand its military footprint.

"Out of an abundance of caution, Pacific Fleet is implementing additional mitigations to prevent Sailors from contracting COVID-19, and to monitor Sailors who have traveled to higher-risk areas", U.S. Navy spokesman Lt. James Adam told the news outlet. "And often at the expense of others".

"While both [the Chinese and U.S. navies] have the legitimate right to carry out their activities on the high seas out there in the western Pacific - including the use of these platforms to monitor each other - the use of lasers to endanger navigation in fact represents a serious provocation", he said.

The Pentagon said that the activity posed "a true threat to our airmen". "We're just taking precautionary measures to mitigate any effects of COVID-19".

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