Australian defence officials condemn Chinese naval vessel’s “lasing” of patrol aircraft

A PLAN Luyang-class guided missile destroyer (left) and a PLAN Yuzhao-class amphibious transport dock vessel leave the Torres Strait and enter the Coral Sea on February 18, 2022. (Photo: Australian Department of Defence)

The Australian Department of Defence (DOD) has confirmed that on Thursday, February 17, the crew of a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft detected a laser illuminating it while in flight over Australia’s northern approaches.

The laser was detected as emanating from a People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) vessel.

Illumination of the aircraft by the Chinese vessel is a serious safety incident, the DOD said in a statement.

The department added that it condemns the “unprofessional and unsafe military conduct” by the Chinese vessel crews as their actions could have endangered the safety and lives of Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel.

The vessel, in company with another PLAN ship, was sailing east through the Arafura Sea at the time of the incident. Both ships have since transited through the Torres Strait and are in the Coral Sea.

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