A People’s Republic of China (PRC) navy destroyer 161 shot a weapons-grade laser at a U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft in a recent move that U.S. Pacific Fleet dubbed “unsafe and unprofessional” in a statement Thursday.
The incident took place on Feb. 17 in the Philippine Sea about 380 miles west of Guam while the P-8A Poseidon crew was “operating in international airspace in accordance with international rules and regulations,” according to a recent service news release.
The P-8A was operating in international airspace in accordance with international rules and regulations.
The laser could not be seen by a human eye but was captured by sensors on the airplane.
“Weapons-grade lasers could potentially cause serious harm to aircrew and mariners, as well as ship and aircraft systems,” Pacific Fleet said in the statement.
The P-8A is assigned to VP-45, based out of Jacksonville, Florida, and is forward-deployed to Kadena Air Force Base in Okinawa, Japan. The squadron conducts routine operations, maritime patrol and reconnaissance in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.
U.S Navy aircraft routinely fly in the Philippine Sea and have done so for many years. U.S. Navy aircraft and ships will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows.
U.S. 7th Fleet is the largest numbered fleet in the world, and with the help of 35 other maritime-nation allies and partners, the U.S. Navy has operated in the Indo-Pacific region for more than a century, providing credible, ready forces to help preserve peace and prevent conflict.