Pentagon Requests Investigation into Lasers Harming US Pilots in Africa


Personnel at China's first overseas military base in Africa have been using lasers to interfere with American military aircraft in the region, USA officials said.

"So they are very serious incidents - this activity poses a true threat to our airmen, " said Dana White, chief Pentagon spokesperson.

In its response, China did not explain why the USA claims are untrue or directly deny that they have employed lasers in Djibouti, where China recently opened a new logistics and military base.

The Pentagon accused Chinese personnel at a base that country controls in the African nation of Djibouti of deliberately shining lasers at us pilots, causing at least two injuries.

The Chinese base suspected to be the origin of the laser beams - known as "dazzlers" - is located a few miles from a USA facility on the Horn of Africa.

Ms White said the Pentagon was confident the lasers had been pointed by Chinese nationals and in the past few weeks fewer than 10 incidents had taken place.

The pilots suffered minor eye injuries.

Over the course of eight months several instances of lasers being pointed at airmen - presumably to cause harm to pilots or cause pilots to lose control of their aircraft - have been reported in the area.

While China stated originally that the base was intended as a logistics hub for United Nations peacekeeping missions and anti-piracy patrols, it is seen as part of a Chinese military expansion into the Indian Ocean that has alarmed regional rival India. He recently said that China's new base allows it to install communication, and possibly interception, systems that allow it to monitor what other powers are doing. "And so we raised the issue with China, and we expect China to investigate it thoroughly".

"These are very serious incidents".

FILE - Chinese People's Liberation Army personnel attend the opening ceremony of China's new military base in Djibouti, Aug. 1, 2017. Mr. Meeks, a former pilot and Air Force colonel, had a previous assignment at U.S. Pacific Command.

The Djiboutian government is already on edge with US military options following a series of aviation accidents in the eastern African nation this year. Last year, the country also agreed to host China's first overseas military outpost, and that facility is located near the American base. Lasers have been directed at craft over the airbase at least ten times in the past few weeks, we're told.