Small Wars Journal

Laser From Chinese Base Aimed at U.S. Military Pilots In Africa’s Skies, Pentagon Charges

Laser From Chinese Base Aimed at U.S. Military Pilots In Africa’s Skies, Pentagon Charges by Gordon Lubold and Jeremy Page – Wall Street Journal

Chinese military personnel are targeting American flight crews in the skies over the east African nation of Djibouti using a high-powered laser in what amounts to a new show of Chinese harassment of the U.S. military at a time of heightened tensions between the nations, according to Pentagon officials.

The incidents bolster longstanding U.S. concerns about China’s decision to establish its first overseas military outpost close to the largest U.S. military base in Africa.

The encounters also underscore growing concerns about Beijing’s steady rise as a military power in Asia and elsewhere, including over its construction of fortified artificial islands in the disputed South China Sea.

“These incidents are not surprising as they represent an act just short of war, but indicate gross, intentional negligence, as well as complete disregard for aviation safety and international norms,” said Trey Meeks, a principal at the Asia Group research firm. Mr. Meeks, a former pilot and Air Force colonel, had a previous assignment at U.S. Pacific Command. “I would certainly view it as harassment.”

The laser incidents prompted U.S. officials to formally complain to the Chinese and to request an explanation. Chinese officials said they are looking into the matter, U.S. officials said…

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