US Air Force pilots flying in the Middle East are facing a growing number of laser pointer attacks than previously acknowledged, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing officials at the US Air Forces Central Command in Qatar.
The uptick is linked to terrorist groups, including Daesh and al-Qaeda active in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Lasing attacks are dangerous and have the potential to confuse, temporarily interfere with the vision of our aircrew, or to permanently damage the eyesight of our service members,” a spokesman for US Central Command told the WSJ.
“We assess that many [laser attacks] likely come from insurgents and terrorist organizations like [Daesh], al-Qaeda and others,” he added.
Even though laser attacks normally target pilots during landing procedures in an attempt to cause an accident, no crashes due to such attacks have occurred so far.
The number of laser attacks in the Middle East region still pales when compared with the number of amateur attacks aimed at commercial pilots each year, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
According to the US flight security watchdog, 2,800 laser incidents took place between January 2018 and June 2018, compared to some 2,700 during the same period last year.