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China: Pentagon made "groundless accusations" about Djibouti lasers

The Chinese Defense Ministry, and the Chinese Foreign Ministry on May 4 2018 denied that it was aiming lasers at U.S. aircraft based in Djibouti.

According to China Daily, “The Defense Ministry said in a statement that the ministry has dismissed such ungrounded accusations from some US officials via official channels. It added that China always firmly honors international laws and regulations in Djibouti, and is dedicated to safeguarding regional security and peace.”

Separately, Reuters reported that “Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the government had conducted ‘serious checks’ and told the U.S. side the accusations were groundless. ‘You can remind the relevant U.S. person to keep in mind the truthfulness of what they say, and to not swiftly speculate or make accusations,’ she told a daily briefing in Beijing.”

From China Daily and Reuters

US: Pentagon says Chinese have aimed lasers at US planes in Djibouti, causing two injuries

In a May 3 2018 press conference, a Pentagon spokesperson said that China has aimed lasers at American aircraft at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti between two and 10 times. On one occasion, this caused two minor, unspecified injuries with no long-term effects to pilots of an Air Force C-130 Hercules.

Spokesperson Dana White said the reason for the laser activity is unknown, “but it’s serious, we take it seriously.” She said it was “a true threat to our airmen”. The U.S. has protested and has asked the Chinese government to investigate.

Another Pentagon spokesperson, Major Sheryll Klinke, said the C-130 pilots were hit with a “military grade” laser.

On April 14 2018, the US military posted this notice to airmen (NOTAM) on the Federal Aviation Administration website, warning about “unauthorized laser activity” in Djibouti.

Pic 2018-05-03 at 7.51.55 PM

The NOTAM was scheduled to expire on June 14.

The NOTAM coordinates (N1135.70 E04303.14) are about 2,400 feet from China’s military base in Djibouti, opened August 1 2017 near Camp Lemonnier.

An article in the quasi-official South China Morning Post referred to “Chinese military observers [who] said the lasers might have been used to scare off birds near the airfield or disrupt possible spy drones, rather than targeting foreign pilots. A Beijing-based military analyst said China has already demonstrated laser weapons being used against drones, at airshows.

China is a signatory to the Protocol on Blinding Laser Weapons, which bans the use of lasers that cause permanent blindness. The protocol does not ban laser dazzlers, which temporarily impair vision but do not cause eye damage. It is also permitted under the Protocol to use lasers to disrupt or damage cameras and sensors such as those on missiles or satellites.

According to The Drive, “As of 2015, Chinese forces had access to at least four different man-portable systems, the BBQ-905, PY131A, PY132A, and the WJG-2002, all of which look like oversized assault rifles or shoulder-fired grenade launchers.”


From The Drive, Janes 360, C4ISRNET, Defense News, South China Morning Post, FAA PilotWeb, and a YouTube video of the May 3 2018 Pentagon press briefing by Dana White. Thanks to Greg Makhov for bringing this to our attention.

UPDATED May 4 2018: China’s Defense Ministry and Foreign Ministry both denied the U.S. allegations of laser use by China.

US: Man shines laser near Sea-Tac Airport and at police helicopter: "Didn't think it was a big deal"

A 29-year-old man was arrested for aiming a laser at aircraft landing at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, and at a King’s County sheriff’s helicopter.

On March 13 2018, the Sea-Tac control tower notified the helicopter, Guardian 1, that a laser was being aimed at inbound aircraft. The approximate location was the Burien Transit Center bus station. The helicopter was able to locate a man, who pointed a green laser beam at the aircraft. Officers on the ground arrested the man, who was not named in press reports.

According to the arresting officers, the man said he was showing his friend a new laser, and the man was “accidentally” aiming near the airport. The man also said he deliberately aimed the laser at the helicopter but “didn’t think it was a big deal.”

The laser caused a brief interruption of SeaTac Airport flight duties and prevented pilots from looking outside the aircraft.

From the Sky Valley Chronicle, KIRO, and Q13FOX.

India: Private rooftop parties blamed for Kolkata laser illuminations of pilots

Private rooftop parties are being blamed for pilot-blinding laser incidents in Kolkata. The beams come from apartment buildings located along the flight path to the airport.

In 2016, there were problems with “clubs and party hubs.” The Airports Authority of India asked the to replace lasers with LEDs, and most complied.

The new problem seems to be private parties, which “are more difficult to track and act against.”

The chairman of the Airline Operator’s Committee said "We don't want to spoil the fun for anyone. The only message that needs to go out is that one shouldn't endanger the lives of others for a bit of fun. I am sure once there is awareness about threat to flights, there will be compliance.”

From a December 27 2017 article in the Times of India. See also a story about similar problems in Mumbai.

Solomon Islands: After laser strikes on aircraft, warning to offenders

The Civil Aviation of Solomon Islands has issued a strong warning to any offender convicted of committing the use of high powered laser pointers against any operating aircraft in the country.

In a statement the Acting Director of Civil Aviation Brian Halisanau said according to the Solomon Islands Civil Aviation Act 2008 Section 213, offender convicted of committing the use of high powered laser pointers against any operating aircraft would be liable to pay a penalty of SBD $300,000 or serve a 14-year term imprisonment.

Halisanau said the warning came as pilots recently reported cases of high powered laser green strike incidents on aircraft arriving and departing Honiara International Airport at night.

He said some of these incidents took place immediately after take-off, and probably before the pilots had fully transitioned onto instrument flight or when the aircraft was established on approach to the runway.

Halisanau added that this was dangerous, as direct eye exposure to one of these laser beams could result in momentary “flash blindness'” for the pilots at a critical stage of the aircraft approach or departure.

From SIBC

UK: Multiple aircraft hit by laser light while landing at Gatwick

Five aircraft approaching London’s Gatwick Airport on December 18 2017 reported that green laser light was aimed at them. Four of the incidents occurred between 7:00 and 8:00 pm; the fifth occurred around midnight.

The illuminations occurred as they flew over Ashdown Forest, open heathland 30 miles south of London. Police said “We believe the person or persons responsible were located in the Hartfield area.” They asked for anyone with information to call them.

From Crawley News 24

US: UPDATED - Multiple aircraft hit by laser light around Newark Airport

Five commercial aircraft reported being illuminated by laser light on approach to Newark-Liberty International Airport. The incidents happened between about 9 and 11 pm on July 15 2015.

All planes involved landed safely, and there were no reports of injuries [but see Updated information below]. Flight controllers did have to change the approach path so subsequent aircraft could avoid the area.

In a statement, the FAA said there were a total of 11 aircraft in and around New Jersey that reported laser illuminations. [Note: Due to the distances involved, it is not possible that all 11 were struck by the same laser beam.]

  • Porter 141 was at 3,000 feet 15 miles southwest of Newark Liberty International Airport
  • American Airlines 1472 was 20 miles southwest of Newark Airport
  • United Airlines was at 9,000 feet seven miles from Newark Airport
  • American Airlines 966 was at 3,00 feet 15 miles south of Newark Airport
  • Delta Air Lines 504, Shuttle America 3489 and JetBlue 828 were at 3,000 feet four miles south of the Outerbridge Crossing [this is about 15 miles from Newark Airport]
  • JetBlue 2779 did not report its location
  • American Airlines 348 was at 9,000 feet over New Jersey heading to LaGuardia Airport
  • One aircraft reported it was illuminated when it was over Ocean City [about 100 miles from Newark Airport]
  • Republic Airlines 4632 reported it was at 9,000 feet seven miles northeast of Robbinsville [about 30 miles from Newark Airport]. The flight was heading to Pittsburgh, PA

In 2014, there were 28 laser incidents reported at Newark, 37 at LaGuardia and 17 at JFK Airport. As of mid-May 2015, there were 21 laser incidents at Newark, 36 at LaGuardia, and 5 at JFK.

From WWLP.com, CBS New York, My9NJ.com and WABC New York

UPDATED July 16 2015 6:51 PM EDT: ABC News stated that “the pilot of one plane reported having blurred vision, according to federal officials.”