According to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, a Chinese navy vessel allegedly shined lasers at an Australian military plane last Thursday.
It was “so close” to Australia’s shoreline at the time of the collision that it “could have been seen from the shoreline.”
The Ship Could be Seen from the Mainland
“It’s feasible that people might see the ship from our mainland,” Morrison told journalists on February 21, highlighting the Chinese ship’s shameless entry into Australia’s exclusive trade zone.
In a February 19 press statement, Australia’s Defence Department (DoD) recounted an event on February 17. A Royal Australian Air Force patrolling aircraft, specifically a P-8A Poseidon, “identified a laser lighting the aircraft while being in flight over Australia’s northern boundaries.”
“A People’s revolutionary Army – Navy (PLA-N) ship was detected emitting the laser. “The Chinese vessel’s irradiation of the aircraft is a major safety incident,” the statement added.
“At the end of the occurrence, the warship was traveling east through the Arafura Sea with some other PLA-N ship.” Both warships have already transited the Torres Strait and are now in the Coral Sea, according to the Australian Defence Department.
A Chinese ship sailing off Australia's northern coast last week illuminated the plane, Canberra's defence department said Sunday, adding that the act had "the potential to endanger lives"https://t.co/NhXHf0Jmr3
— WION (@WIONews) February 21, 2022
The Arafura Sea is situated west of the Pacific Ocean, bordering Australia and Indonesian-controlled Western New Guinea.
As per Boeing’s site, the P-8A Poseidon was designed as a maritime surveillance aircraft for “anti-submarine combat, anti-surface military action, information, intelligence gathering, and search and rescue.”
The Chinese PLA-N vessel’s lashing on Saturday was described by the Australian Department of Defense as possibly life-threatening. “These actions might have jeopardized the safety and lives of ADF [Australian Defense Force] members.”
In a statement released on February 19, the Department of Defense said, “We strongly condemn unethical and risky military behavior. Such activities are not in accordance with the norms we expect of competent militaries.”
This is Serious
According to news.com.au, Australian Defense Secretary Peter Dutton remarked of the PLA-N vessel’s lasers, “This is not a technology you purchase down at the shop. This is a military method, and the gear is military-grade,” he confirmed.
Australia says China warship fired laser at its patrol plane
The Australian Defense Department says a Chinese navy ship fired a laser at one of its surveillance aircraft, putting the lives of the crew in danger https://t.co/2eibpiNltT
— Karol Cummins (@karolcummins) February 19, 2022
According to Global Times, the beam used by the Chinese Navy on February 17 was “possibly” a type of laser known as a “rangefinder.” This is “used to calculate the distance between both the ship and the aircraft,” according to an anonymous source.
Officials from China’s government disputed Australia’s account of what happened inside the Arafura Sea as “fake.”
Retired [PLA] Colonel Tan Kefei, a spokesman for China’s Ministry of National Defense, said during a statement Monday that Australia’s declaration is “totally incongruous with the facts.”
According to Tan, the Australian P-8 anti-submarine warfare patrolling aircraft operated within four kilometers [2.48 miles] of the Chinese vessel flotilla.
Tan stated the Chinese vessels acted in a safe, standard, and professional manner throughout the trip, adhering to existing international law and practice.