China suspected of firing laser-beams at Australian helicopters

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A spokesperson for the Australian Defence Force has confirmed a rise in the use of hand-held laser devices across the region.

Beijing has stepped up island-building and naval patrols as it seeks to dominate the South China Sea, a strategically vital waterway through which one-third of world trade passes.

Several incidents linking the Chinese military and lasers have been reported as far away as Dijbouti in the Horn of Africa, where the US and China have established bases. 

Later Washington complained to China after powerful light beams were directed at aircraft, and there were similar allegations of US aircraft being menaced in the Pacific.

Last year, the Australian Defence Department publicly condemned the practice.

“The Australian government would view reports of military aircraft being targeted by lasers as an unwelcome and potentially dangerous development,” a military spokesperson told the ABC in July 2018.

Beijing has routinely denied any involvement in laser attacks on American aircraft.

The British Airline Pilots’ Association has previously warned of the dangers to civilian flights.   

“A laser attack on an aircraft will inevitably startle and dazzle the pilots and may result in significant pilot distraction,” it said.  “At the same time pilots are concerned about the increasing power of laser beams and the potential they have to cause a serious crash or damage pilots’ eyes.”

 



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