Suspected Chinese lasers target US aircraft over Pacific

The attacks appear similar to incidents that occurred in the East African country of Djibouti earlier in the year, when US military airmen were injured by lasers which the US military said originated from a nearby Chinese military base.

Indo-Asian News Service
Washington, Publish Date: Jun 23 2018 9:49AM | Updated Date: Jun 23 2018 9:49AM
Suspected Chinese lasers target US aircraft over PacificRepresentational pic

Lasers have been used to target US aerial operations in the Pacific, with 20 incidents recorded since September 2017, according to a US military official.

The military spokeswoman, who requested not to be named, told CNN on Friday that lasers had been flashed at US aircraft, and that the sources of these flashes are suspected to be Chinese.

The latest incident occurred within the last two weeks, the official said.

None of the incidents have resulted in any medical complaints or injuries, the spokeswoman said. 

The attacks appear similar to incidents that occurred in the East African country of Djibouti earlier in the year, when US military airmen were injured by lasers which the US military said originated from a nearby Chinese military base.

At a regular press briefing Friday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said: "According to what we have learned from the relevant authorities, the accusations in the relevant reports by US media are totally groundless and purely fabricated."

The latest round of suspected laser attacks have all occurred in and around the East China Sea, which is home to disputed island chains, including the Senkaku, claimed by both Japan and China, where they are known as the Diaoyu.

The area's waters are near heavy-traffic shipping lanes, and are used regularly by both Japanese and Chinese military and civilian ships, as well as a semi-autonomous "maritime militia" which defends China's territorial interests in the region.

Aviation Week & Space Technology, an industry publication, quoted a spokeswoman for the US Marines who said that the attacks had originated "from a range of different sources, both ashore and from fishing vessels."

The official CNN spoke to would not confirm that the lasers used in the Pacific were military- or commercial-grade, but even off-the-shelf laser pointers can cause a hazard to pilots. 

Aiming a laser beam at an aircraft in the US is a federal crime.

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