Chinese militia laser RAAF over South China Sea

Via the ABC:

Chinese maritime militia vessels are believed responsible for a series of laser attacks on Australian Navy pilots during a recent voyage through the hotly contested South China Sea.

Defence sources have confirmed helicopters were targeted during night flights, forcing the pilots to temporarily return to their ship for medical check-ups.

The incidents occurred as Australian warships were completing Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2019, an ADF regional engagement mission that wrapped up this week.

This week the ABC revealed the Australian Task Group had been closely followed earlier this month by Chinese warships as they travelled between Vietnam and Singapore through the South China Sea.

Australian military officials believe the laser attacks on the Navy helicopters came from fishing boats, but it has not yet been formally confirmed if the vessels were Chinese flagged.

Beijing maintains a robust maritime militia in the South China Sea, composed of fishing vessels equipped to carry out missions just short of combat.

The Australian Defence Department is yet to comment publicly, but similar incidents involving lasers and the Chinese military have also been reported as far away as Djibouti, where the US and China have bases.

Last year, the US complained to China after lasers were directed at aircraft in the Horn of Africa nation, resulting in minor injuries to two American pilots.

Following reports last year of a series of laser attacks on US aircraft in the Pacific, the Australian Defence Department publicly condemned the practice.

“The Australian Government would view reports of military aircraft being targeted by lasers as an unwelcome and potentially dangerous development,” a Defence spokesperson told the ABC in July 2018.

Beijing has routinely denied any involvement in laser attacks on US aircraft, but this is the first publicised incident to have targeted Australian personnel.

Keeping the sea lanes open to supply iron ore. The irony.

David Llewellyn-Smith
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  1. kannigetMEMBER

    Navy Pilots are NOT RAAF.

    Wile Defence may know more accurately who did point lasers at the pilots, The Media reports only imply it was Chinese Militia. They have a history of doing such things an frankly I would not be surprised at it. Pretty good going to point a laser from a boat rocking in the ocean into the eyes of a chopper pilot kilometres away…. some serious kung foo there…

      • kannigetMEMBER

        Never said laser pointer, I said point a laser…though probably easier with a cheap laser pointer as they are not really focused beams they spread out over distance Ina very tight cone shape,but that would also make them harmless at anything over 100m

        Aiming a laser at a helicopter is one thing, aiming it at the occupants of the cockpit is another level again. Doing it to a military helicopter traveling at speed is getting impressive, doing it from the deck of a fishing boat bobbing around is now getting in the realms of mission impossible.

        It has to be military kit, using technology to stabilise it.

        This is not some idiot pointing a laser pointer from the front seat of his car at the cockpit of an aircraft landing at an airport.

        A 2.2 m wide by 2.2m h cockpit at a 100m range would require an accuracy of around 1.2° in both horizontal and vertical planes. And then you would only be hitting somewhere in that space, lucky if it’s the pilots eyes but not likely. Possible for a practiced person but most people would struggle with 5 degrees.
        @200m range you now need 0.6° accuracy. Still possible for a practiced person but make your target move and also bounce around on a fishing boat. You would need gimbal stabilisation and computer control just to track it….my guess would be slightly dispersed beam to make it powerful enough to be a concern but easy enough to aim and hit something.

        That would be why the Navy would be more concerned as it had to be more than a fishing boat and with the aim of provoking a response.

    • It’s very easy to lase an airborne target form a fair distance….I’ve been done a few times whilst flying, at night, at 250 knots from a few suburbs away. So easy any bogan d1ck can have a crack.

      Like Gramus says below, its probably a bit bigger than an EBay laser pointer too…

      • kannigetMEMBER

        What did it look like? Spoken to a number of pilots, none have experienced it so I am curious what you actually saw ..

      • A couple of times I’ve seen where the beam originated before it has raked across the cockpit window…as you’d expect it’s pretty bright and defined. When it hits and comes through the glass, it’s like a dazzling explosion of green light…it kind of splits as it hits all the angles and reflective surfaces in the flight deck. it really is like a slap in the face, and pretty disturbing when you are in the dark trying to make an approach. I have averted my eyes those times I’ve seen it coming and luckily not looked right into the beam.

  2. blindjusticeMEMBER

    The use of small ships shows their hand I think. They`ll utilise drones in swarm tactics and play to their strength of mass production. Swarm drones, swarm drone subs, swarm drone everything. Fancy being the first infantry unit to be properly attacked by a swarm of drones?, it will be a massacre. The single drones with a grenade attached in the Yemen conflict is a sign of where things will go. Extrapolate that out to ships and subs etc.

    Industrial capacity allowed the Alllies to win WW2. That and technical ability is what *could* allow us to defend Australia. That and possibly a good rocket program and nuclear weapons

  3. Lol, “maritime militia”.

    Sounds quite a bit like them privateers in Elizabeth’s time.

  4. Tamash1MEMBER

    Of course, none of the Chinese military equipment is made from Aussie iron ore.

    • HadronCollisionMEMBER

      Maybe we need to get some Huawei routers and point the lasers at Chinese pilots

    • HadronCollisionMEMBER

      Probably busy emptying one of his 100kL tanks with his world famour Octogon shower with ultra high flow showers fed by high pressure fire fighting pumps (aviation)*.

      *available from

  5. So the Chinese are attacking RAN pilots with lasers? Mmm … we need to quickly get rid of any dependence on China. This is not going to end well anytime soon.

    • Even StevenMEMBER

      I’d start by applying Tariffs on Chinese goods. If Australian consumers have to pay a bit more, so be it. A small price to pay.