Pentagon accuses China of shining lasers at US pilots in Djibouti
US officials issued a formal diplomatic complaint following recent incidents including two pilots suffering minor eye injuries
Chinese nationals have on multiple occasions shone military-grade laser pointers at US pilots operating out of the American base in Djibouti, the Pentagon said Thursday.
Officials have issued a formal diplomatic complaint and demanded Beijing investigate a series of incidents dating back several weeks, spokeswoman Dana White said.
“They are very serious incidents,” White said. “This activity poses a true threat to our airmen.”
In one case, two pilots on a C-130 cargo plane suffered minor eye injuries as they came in to land at the base in the Horn of Africa nation, another spokeswoman, Maj Sheryll Klinkel, told AFP.
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China opened a naval base in Djibouti, only a few miles from the US facility, making it the first overseas base for Beijing’s rapidly growing military.
White said she was “confident” that whoever had shone the high-powered lasers was Chinese.
Officials told the Wall Street Journal the laser probably came from the Chinese base.
The Federal Aviation Administration last month published a warning to pilots to use extreme caution in the area.
“There have been multiple lazing events involving a high-power laser in the vicinity,” the warning reads.