BLUF

A Chinese warship’s use of a military-grade laser on an Australian surveillance plane was purposeful aggression; therefore—the ADF will need to be ready to take appropriate protective measures against a reoccurrence of this type of grey-zone tactic.

Summary

This article by Peter Layton in The Interpreter makes the following points:
  • The laser rangefinder attack is the first Chinese grey-zone action close to Australia—about 170 kilometres from Marchinbar Island. NT.
  • The Chinese ships have optical fire control systems incorporating laser range finders.
  • Military-grade lasers are prohibited except in war.
  • Strict safety protocols apply.
  • Potentially serious eye damage.
  • The Soviets used lasers during the cold war to blind or dazzle aircrews.
  • Chinese Communist Party political officers on board both vessels would have ensured that any action taken by the ship would have been approved at a senior level.
  • Chinese fishing vessels have used commercial-grade lasers previously.
  • China will probably continue to use lasers until such usage becomes normal.
  • Chinese grey zone actions are becoming more black and white.

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    Source Information: Lowy Institute The