Source: Robert Besser

BRISBANE, Australia: A Chinese naval ship has fired a laser beam at an Australian military aircraft, with the potential to blind the crew.

In a statement by the Australian Defense Department, it was reported that the incident occurred on February 19 when the Australian crew of a P-8A Poseidon plane reported being illuminated by a laser while in flight over Australia’s northern waters, the department said.

Similar incidents occurred when the U.S. and its allies patrolled the waters of the western Pacific, in spite of threats from the Chinese navy.

The Australians said that the laser came from a People’s Liberation Army Navy vessel that was accompanying another Chinese ship in the Torres Strait.

“Illumination of the aircraft by the Chinese vessel is a serious safety incident,” the Defense Department said. “We strongly condemn unprofessional and unsafe military conduct. These actions could have endangered the safety and lives of the ADF personnel.”

Australian officials noted that lasers can injure pilots or temporarily blind them.

In 2020, the U.S. said the Chinese navy had fired a laser at one of its Poseidon planes over the Pacific.

In 2019, an Australian navy helicopter pilot reported being hit by lasers in the South China Sea, forcing them to land.

In 2018, the U.S. issued a formal complaint to the Chinese government after two U.S. pilots were injured by a laser fired by the Chinese in Africa.