Defense Minister Peter Dutton has slammed China for “bullying” after one of their naval vessels targeted an Australian aircraft with a laser.
The Australian Defense Force said the aircraft detected the laser from a Chinese vessel on Thursday while it was flying along Australia’s northern approaches.
On Sunday morning Mr Dutton said it was important to “shine a light” on this behaviour.
“I think the Chinese government is hoping that nobody talks about these aggressive, bullying acts,” Mr Dutton told Sky News.
He said it was “completely unacceptable” and could have left crew-members blind and damaged equipment.
“It’s a very aggressive act and that’s why it’s right that we call it out,” the minister said.
The Chinese vessel, in company with another People’s Liberation Army – Navy (PLA-N) ship, was sailing east through the Arafura Sea, located between Northern Australia and Western New Guinea, at the time of the incident.
The ADF slammed the act as “unprofessional and unsafe” military conduct in a statement.
“Such actions are not in keeping with the standards we expect of professional militaries.”
A laser used on RAAF aircraft close to the Australian mainland is an escalation of tension between the Chinese navy and Australia’s armed forces.
The last time a PLA warship used a military-grade laser against an RAAF aircraft was in a 2019 incident involving a helicopter on exercises in the South China Sea.