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Australian helicopters targeted by lasers in South China Sea

"Some helicopter pilots had lasers pointed at them from passing fishing vessels," Euan Graham of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute wrote on The Strategist blog.

Graham told CNN South China Sea missions.

Graham was aboard HMAS Canberra, a helicopter landing dock and flagship of the Royal Australian Navy, as it operates in the South China Sea and Indian Ocean on a three-month mission that ended this week.

The Australian Defense Department spokesperson said in a statement.

"The reason for using the laser is unknown, but it may be to draw attention to their presence in congested waterways."

At sea, fishermen are known to use lasers to warn off other vessels

"That makes sense for collision of vessels, but there is no direct threat from aircraft to vessels in the South China Sea," Graham said.

Graham said that the Canberra and other Australian Ships were "shadowed almost continuously" by Chinese warships while in the South China Sea, "The maritime militia is, I think, beyond the argument." even though they did not approach any of the islands and reefs occupied by the Chinese military.

Radio communications between the Australian and Chinese forces were courteous, Graham said.

China has claimed nearly the entire 1

.3 million square miles of South China Sea as its sovereign.

[194559003] territory. In recent years it has aggressively asserted its stake in the Southeast Asian nations.

As part of that, Beijing operates a maritime militia in this region, a force of fishing vessels essentially deputized to the Chinese Navy.
In Hainan, a South China Sea island, local fishermen assisted in more than 250 law enforcement operations at a three-year period ending in 2016,

"It's no secret There, the Chinese throne of China's approach to make life difficult for foreign aircraft and warships there, "Graham said.

 China and the United States face off in Djibouti

US military officials told CNN last year that there were at least 20 suspected Chinese laser incidents in the eastern Pacific from September 2017 to June 2018.
And in May 2018, US military officials said Chinese personnel at the country's military base in Djibouti were using lasers to interfere with US military aircraft at a nearby American base.
spasms and spots in their vision. The dazzle effect can trigger temporary blindness, with "catastrophic" consequences, according to John Marshall, a professor at University College of London's Institute of Ophthalmology.

"The inappropriate use of lasers would pose a potential safety risk to all those operating in the region, "the Australian Department of Defense said statement.

No injuries were found in the Australian Navy.

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