Possible Use of Blinding Laser Weapon Near China's Djibouti Base Spurs US Warning to Aviators

The Chinese military may be using a high-powered laser against pilots in Djibouti air space. (credit: Robert Ressler, U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class)

The Chinese military may be using a high-powered laser against pilots in Djibouti air space. (credit: Robert Ressler, U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class)

September 10, 2018 | Source: The Diplomat, thediplomat.com, 3 May 2018, Ankit Panda

Is China’s Djibouti-based military presence starting to create trouble for the U.S. military? In April, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration reproduced a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) originally issued by the U.S. military warning of “multiple lazing events involving a high power laser” in airspace near China’s new military base.

The NOTAM warned aviators to “use extreme caution when transiting near this area” and further advised pilots that “if a laser is seen in or near Djibouti” to notify air traffic controllers in the area. The NOTAM was reproduced by the FAA on April 14.

The location referenced in connection with the laser activity is under 1 kilometer from the perimeter of China’s new military logistics facility in Djibouti, which was announced in 2015. The facility is China’s first overseas military base and Beijing has justified the facility by noting its role in enabling the People’s Liberation Army-Navy to sustain anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and the western Indian Ocean.