Why is China Firing Lasers at airplanes? The Australian Defense Department said that a Chinese navy ship directed a laser at one of its surveillance aircraft, putting the lives of the crew in danger.
Australian officials from the Department of Defense said that the laser came from a People’s Liberation Army Navy ship. That vessel and another Chinese ship were passing through the Torres Strait in the Arafura Sea. That sea lies between the northern coast of Australia and the southern coast of New Guinea. Both ships were now in the Coral Sea, east of Australia, the department said in a released statement.
“Illumination of the aircraft by the Chinese vessel is a serious safety incident,” the department said. “Acts like this have the potential to endanger lives. We strongly condemn unprofessional and unsafe military conduct.”
The Chinese were signatories of the Protocol on Blinding Laser Weapons that was sponsored by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) that banned the use of lasers that can cause blindness during times of war.
Peter Dutton, the Australian Defense Minister in a statement to Sky News said that the incident was another example of “aggressive bullying” by the Chinese military.
“It can result in the blindness of the crew, it can obviously result in damage of equipment,” Dutton said, adding “it’s a very aggressive act and that’s why it’s right we call it out.”
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison characterized the Chinese shining of the lasers at Australian aircraft with 10 personnel on board as an “act of intimidation” that needlessly endangered lives.
“I can see it no other way than an act of intimidation, one that was unprovoked, unwarranted and Australia will never accept such acts of intimidation,” Morrison said.
“It was a reckless and irresponsible act and it should not occur.
“We are raising those issues directly through the diplomatic and defense channels,” he added.
In 2019, Chinese maritime militia vessels initiated a series of laser attacks on Australian pilots while flying over the South China Sea, according to a report by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).
This type of incident is hardly without precedent, as Chinese navy vessels have conducted the same type of provocative, dangerous incidents against both Australian and American Navy aircraft.
Back in 2019, Chinese navy militia ships directed a series of laser attacks on Australian navy helicopter pilots while flying over the South China Sea, according to a report by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). Those pilots were forced to land as a precaution. The Chinese denied the accusation stating that the pilots were circling low
American P-8 Poseidon aircraft were subjected to laser attacks in the South Pacific in 2020. The Chinese denied the accusation stating that the pilots were circling low over their ships and ignored repeated warnings.
Steve Balestrieri is a 1945 National Security Columnist. He has served as a US Army Special Forces NCO and Warrant Officer before injuries forced his early separation. In addition to writing for 19fortyfive.com, he has covered the NFL for PatsFans.com for more than 10 years and his work was regularly featured in the Millbury-Sutton Chronicle and Grafton News newspapers in Massachusetts.