Australia Defense Force claims China illuminated aircraft with laser

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Feb. 21 (UPI) — The Australian defense force confirmed that a recent laser incident involving a Chinese warship represents an escalation from a previous laser incident in 2019 by China.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called for an explanation from the Chinese government over what he called dangerous, unprofessional and reckless actions.

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Experts say that the shining of a laser at an Australian surveillance aircraft by the People’s Liberation Army-Navy warship was more serious than when Australian helicopters were forced to land in 2019 as a precaution to another laser incident.

The ADF said on Thursday that a PLAN warship used a laser to illuminate an Australian P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft.

Austrialian officials said ADF has seen an increase in the use of lasers by some vessels in the Indo-Pacific region recently.

Last’s week incident was deemed more serious than others since the use of a military-grade laser could be seen as a precursor to firing a weapon.

A storyboard depicts the movements of two Chinese naval vessels last week, including a lasing incident against a Royal Australian Air Force P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft on Feb. 17. Image courtesy Australian Defense Force
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“The increasing prevalence of the inappropriate use of lasers is concerning as it poses a potential safety risk to all those operating in the region,” an ADF spokesperson told The Guardian.

Concerns have been raised to China’s ministries of foreign affairs and national defense, as well as its embassy in Canberra.

Morrison said on Monday that Chinese authorities hadn’t responded to his concerns, but at a briefing in Beijing, China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Wang Wenbin said that the Australian report wasn’t true.

“The normal navigation of the Chinese ship on the high seas conforms to relevant international law and practice and is completely legitimate and lawful,” Wang said, according to CNN.

The contested move comes as many nations express concern over a growing Chinese military presence in the South China Sea.