A U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft was lased by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy destroyer, Hohhot (161), on Feb. 17 while flying in the airspace above international waters approximately 380 miles west of Guam, according to the U.S. Pacific Fleet.
The U.S. Navy said that 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 P-8A is assigned to Patrol Squadron 45 (VP-45), based out of Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida, and is forward-deployed to Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan. The squadron conducts routine operations, maritime patrol and reconnaissance in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.
The laser, which was not visible to the naked eye, was captured by a sensor onboard the P-8A. Weapons-grade lasers could potentially cause serious harm to aircrew and mariners, as well as ship and aircraft systems.
Excerpt from the statement:
Additionally, these acts violate the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES), a multilateral agreement reached at the 2014 Western Pacific Naval Symposium to reduce the chance of an incident at sea. CUES specifically addresses the use of lasers that could cause harm to personnel or damage to equipment. The destroyer’s actions were also inconsistent with a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between U.S. Department of Defense and the Ministry of National Defense of the PRC regarding rules of behavior for safety of air and maritime encounters.
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.