Chinese destroyer aims laser at US Navy plane in 'unsafe' manner, military says

A People’s Republic of China (PRC) navy destroyer 161 on Feb. 17 aimed a laser at a U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft while it was flying above international waters, according to the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

The incident took place approximately 380 miles west of Guam and occurred without provocation, the fleet's public affairs office said in a statement.

The laser China used, which is invisible to the naked eye, had been observed by a sensor that was onboard the P-8A.

Weapons-grade lasers have the potential to cause serious harm to servicemembers and could have damaged various ship and aircraft systems.

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A U.S. Navy Boeing P-8A ''Poseidon'' (BuNo 168429) from Patrol Squadron VP-16 dropping an anti-submarine torpedo.

A U.S. Navy Boeing P-8A ''Poseidon'' (BuNo 168429) from Patrol Squadron VP-16 dropping an anti-submarine torpedo. (U.S. Navy)

"The PRC navy destroyer’s actions were unsafe and unprofessional," the release read.

"Additionally, these acts violate the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES), a multilateral agreement reached at the 2014 Western Pacific Naval Symposium to reduce the chance of an incident at sea. CUES specifically addresses the use of lasers that could cause harm to personnel or damage to equipment."

The U.S. Navy also took issue with the lack of regard for the Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. Department of Defense and China's Ministry of National Defense, outlining the rules and regulations for "air and maritime encounters."

The P-8A is based out of Jacksonville, Fla., and is forward-deployed to Kadena Air Force Base in Okinawa, Japan.

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The Naval Public Affairs office claimed aircraft routinely fly in the Philippine Sea and have done so for years. It also said aircraft and ships will "continue to fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows."

Fox News' Jennifer Griffin contributed to this report