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US says Chinese ship fired laser at American aircraft

Associated Press logoAssociated Press 2/28/2020 By LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press
In this image provided by the U.S. Navy, a sailor assigned to the Grey Knights of Patrol Squadron (VP) 46 signals the pilot in the flight station of a P-8A Poseidon during a pre-flight check on Oct. 23, 2019, in Oak Harbor, Wash. A Chinese Navy ship fired a laser at a U.S. surveillance aircraft flying over the Philippine Sea west of Guam, the Navy said Feb. 27, 2020, acknowledging the incident more than a week after it happened. (Austin Ingram/U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class via AP) © Provided by Associated Press In this image provided by the U.S. Navy, a sailor assigned to the Grey Knights of Patrol Squadron (VP) 46 signals the pilot in the flight station of a P-8A Poseidon during a pre-flight check on Oct. 23, 2019, in Oak Harbor, Wash. A Chinese Navy ship fired a laser at a U.S. surveillance aircraft flying over the Philippine Sea west of Guam, the Navy said Feb. 27, 2020, acknowledging the incident more than a week after it happened. (Austin Ingram/U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class via AP)

WASHINGTON — A Chinese Navy ship fired a laser at a U.S. surveillance aircraft flying over the Philippine Sea west of Guam, the Navy said Thursday, acknowledging the incident more than a week after it happened.

The Navy said the People's Republic of China naval destroyer lased the American P-8A Poseidon aircraft in an act the U.S. deemed unsafe and a violation of international codes and agreements. The statement from U.S. Pacific Fleet said the laser was detected by sensors on the aircraft, but was not visible to the naked eye.

“Weapons-grade lasers could potentially cause serious harm to aircrew and mariners, as well as ship and aircraft systems,” the Navy said. The incident took place about 380 miles west of Guam.

The Poseidon crew is deployed to Kadena Air Force Base in Okinawa, Japan. The squadron conducts routine operations, maritime patrol, and reconnaissance in the Pacific Fleet area.

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