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US Pacific Fleet: US Navy P-8A Poseidon 'Lased' by Chinese Destroyer

The US Navy claims a P-8A Poseidon belonging to the service was hit with a laser fired by a People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) destroyer last week while flying over international waters.

The February 27 release issued by the US Pacific Fleet's public affairs office reported that the maritime patrol aircraft was "lased" some 380 miles west of Guam, and that the laser was "not visible to the naked eye," but was detected by a "sensor" onboard the Poseidon.  

According to the service, the "unsafe and unprofessional" act was committed by PLAN destroyer 161 - which is a Type 052D destroyer. 

The US Pacific Fleet cited violations in the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea and Memorandum of Understanding between the US Department of Defense and the Ministry of National Defense of the People's Republic of China. 

"Weapons-grade lasers could potentially cause serious harm to aircrew and mariners, as well as ship and aircraft systems," noted the service. 

The Posideon, which is equipped with AGM-84D Harpoon anti-ship missiles and Mark 54 Lightweight Torpedoes, is generally used for surveillance missions and have been perceived as provocative by nations such as Iran, which claimed that it could have downed the aircraft in late 2019, but chose to spare it. 

"Hohhot," the Type 052D destroyer in question, was commissioned by the PLAN on January 12, 2019, according to Naval News. The 7,500-ton vessel is meant to hold a crew of up to 280 sailors and is considered to be the Chinese equivalent to the US' Aegis destroyers.   

Several months ago, a Royal Australian Navy helicopter pilot was hit by a laser while conducting drills in the South China Sea during Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2019 - a two-month series of drills between Australian troops and service members from Sri Lanka, India, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore and Indonesia. 

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