A Chinese destroyer fired a weapons-grade laser at a US surveillance aircraft, US Navy says

Chinese Navy

  • A Chinese destroyer targeted a US Navy P-8A surveillance aircraft with a weapons-grade laser in the Pacific last week, the US Navy said Thursday.
  • A Pacific Fleet spokeswoman told Insider that the weapon appeared to be part of the Chinese warship's close-in weapons system.
  • "Weapons-grade lasers could potentially cause serious harm to aircrew and mariners, as well as ship and aircraft systems," a PACFLEET statement read, calling the incident "unsafe and unprofessional."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

A Chinese destroyer used a weapons-grade laser to target a US Navy P-8A surveillance aircraft flying above the Pacific last week, US Pacific Fleet said Thursday.

The People's Liberation Army-Navy destroyer's actions were "unsafe and unprofessional," PACFLEET said in a statement following the incident, which occurred around 380 miles from Guam, where the US has a significant military presence.

The laser appeared to be part of the destroyer's close-in weapon system, a PACFLEET spokeswoman told Insider.

"The laser, which was not visible to the naked eye, was captured by a sensor onboard the P-8A," PACLFEET said. "Weapons-grade lasers could potentially cause serious harm to aircrew and mariners, as well as ship and aircraft systems."

The Chinese destroyer, hull number 161, appears to have been the Type 052D Luyang III-class destroyer Hohot.

PACFLEET accused the Chinese warship of violating international rules and regulations, including agreements on conduct at sea, by targeting the aircraft, which was operating in airspace above international waters, with a laser.

The latest incident is not the first time the US military has called the Chinese military out for the use of lasers against US assets and personnel.

In 2018, the Department of Defense accused the Chinese military, specifically personnel stationed at the country's first overseas military base in Djibouti, of using lasers to target US aircraft operating nearby, CNN reported at the time.

A notice to airmen (NOTAM) issued at the time urged pilots "to exercise caution when flying in certain areas in Djibouti," explaining that the call for caution was "due to lasers being directed at US aircraft."

"During one incident, there were two minor eye injuries of aircrew flying in a C-130 that resulted from exposure to military-grade laser beams, which were reported to have originated from the nearby Chinese base," the notice read.

The Pentagon said that the activity posed "a true threat to our airmen."

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