China has refuted the claim by the U.S. Navy that one of its P-8A Poseidon maritime reconnaissance aircraft was fired upon with laser by a Chinese Navy destroyer while flying over the Philippine Sea.
A spokesman with China’s Ministry of National Defense, Ren Guoqiang, said the claim did not accord with the reality when responding to a query about the alleged incident, on Friday.
China’s version of the incident:
On Feb. 17, when Chinese navy fleet formation was conducting routine exercises in the international waters, the American P-8A aircraft carried out long-period circling reconnaissance at low-altitude despite repeated warnings from the Chinese side.
The Chinese warship’s operation was safe and professional, which was also in line with relevant international laws and common practices, while the American aircraft’s behavior was unfriendly in intention and unprofessional by operation, which severely threatened the safety of the vessels, aircraft and crew of both sides.
The Laser Incident
On Feb. 17, the U.S. Pacific Fleet has claimed that a U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft was lased by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy destroyer, Hohhot (161) while flying in the airspace above international waters approximately 380 miles west of Guam.
The P-8A, involved in the incident, was assigned to the Navy’s Patrol Squadron 45 (VP-45), based out of Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida, and was forward-deployed to Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan.
According to the U.S. Navy, the P-8A was operating in international airspace in accordance with international rules and regulations adding that the destroyer’s actions were unsafe and unprofessional. The Navy claimed that the laser, which was not visible to the naked eye, was captured by a sensor onboard the P-8A aircraft.
Weapons-grade lasers could potentially cause serious harm to aircrew and mariners, as well as ship and aircraft systems, the U.S. Pacific Fleet statement noted.
Hohhot, the Chinese destroyer mentioned by the statement, was part of the Chinese far sea joint training of the PLA Southern Theater Command. The fleet consisted of other warships, including guided-missile frigate Xianning, electronic surveillance ship Tianshuxing and replenishment ship Chaganhu.