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AustraliaAustralian military aircraft targeted with lasers during South China Sea flights

20:26  28 may  2019
20:26  28 may  2019 Source:   abc.net.au

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Australian military officials believe laser attacks on Navy helicopter pilots during exercises in the South China Sea came from fishing boats, though it is not yet confirmed if the vessels were Chinese flagged.

Australian military helicopters were targeted with lasers during operations in the South China Sea this month.

Chinese maritime militia vessels are believed responsible for a series of laser attacks on Australian navy pilots during a recent voyage through the hotly contested South China Sea.

Australian military aircraft targeted with lasers during South China Sea flights© Provided by ABC News Australian pilots of MHR-90 helicopters were targeted with lasers during South China Sea flights. Defence sources have confirmed helicopters were targeted during night flights, forcing the pilots to temporarily return to their ship for medical check-ups.

The incidents occurred as Australian warships were completing Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2019, an ADF regional engagement mission which wrapped up this week.

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Australian Defence Forces have been increasingly targeted by hand-held lasers and military insiders blame the attacks on small Chinese fishing vessels Earlier this year Australia ’s Defence Department confirmed one of their helicopters had been targeted while travelling over the South China Sea .

Australia doesn’t have South China Sea -related claims, but has consistently called for all nations A Royal Australian Navy helicopter pilot was hit by a laser during the Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2019 in the disputed South China Sea , AP reports, with an eyewitness claiming others were targeted as well.

Australian military aircraft targeted with lasers during South China Sea flights
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This week the ABC revealed the Australian Task Group had been closely followed earlier this month by Chinese warships as they travelled between Vietnam and Singapore through the South China Sea.

Australian military officials believe the laser attacks on the navy helicopters came from fishing boats, but it has not yet been formally confirmed if the vessels were Chinese flagged.

Beijing maintains a robust maritime militia in the South China Sea composed of fishing vessels equipped to carry out missions just short of combat.

The Australian Defence Department is yet to comment publicly, but similar incidents involving lasers and the Chinese military have also been reported as far away as Djibouti, where the US and China have bases.

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The Australian Royal Navy conducted its Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2019 exercise in the South China Sea . An analyst joined the HMAS Canberra. Australian navy pilots were targeted with laser beams during an exercise in the South China Sea , a security analyst who observed Australia 's operations

Hand-held lasers are increasingly being used against Australian Defence Force assets, with © Provided by ABC NEWS Australian pilots of MHR90 helicopters were targeted with lasers earlier this year. © Reuters Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy personnel in a South China Sea military

Last year, the US complained to China after lasers were directed at aircraft in the Horn of Africa nation that resulted in minor injuries to two American pilots.

Following reports last year of a series of laser attacks on US aircraft in the Pacific, the Australian Defence Department publicly condemned the practice.

"The Australian Government would view reports of military aircraft being targeted by lasers as an unwelcome and potentially dangerous development," a Defence spokesperson told the ABC in July 2018.

Beijing has routinely denied any involvement in laser attacks on US aircraft, but this is the first publicised incident to have targeted Australian personnel.

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