People’s Liberation Army Navy lased a U.S. Navy P-8A in unsafe, unprofessional manner

February 27, 2020 – A U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft was lased by People’s Republic of China (PRC) navy destroyer 161 on Feb. 17 while flying in airspace above international waters approximately 380 miles west of Guam.

The P-8A was operating in international airspace in accordance with international rules and regulations. The PRC navy destroyer’s actions were unsafe and unprofessional.

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.

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.

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.

A P-8A Poseidon aircraft from Patrol Squadron (VP) 45 prepares to take off for an exercise Cobra Gold training event. Cobra Gold is a multilateral exercise held between the U.S., Thailand, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea. Focusing on Air to Air, Surface to Air, and Sub-surface battle spaces as well as humanitarian efforts, Cobra Gold is one of the largest Indo-Pacific exercises in which the U.S. participates promoting and improving interoperability among the U.S. and its maritime partners. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Thomas A. Higgins)

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.

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