The Australian Navy helicopters were forced to land after being hit with lasers and the ships were pulled back during a passage through the highly disputed South China Sea.
The HMAS Canberra and HMAS Parramatta were on their way to a joint military exercise earlier this year when a Chinese warship followed them, according to a witness on board.
The Tiger helicopters carried out night flyers and deck landings when they were attacked by laser pointers from passing fishing boats.
Australian military helicopters were forced to land and the ships were discreetly traced during their recent voyage through the fiercely fought South China Sea (photo HMAS Canberra)
Euan Graham, a former analyst from Northeast Asia and Southeast Asia for the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, was aboard HMAS Canberra from Vietnam to Singapore when it happened.
He detailed his experience The strategist, A website of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, an independent, non-partisan think tank from Canberra.
& # 39; Did these frightened fishermen respond to the unexpected? Or was it the kind of coordinated intimidation that was more suggestive of China's maritime militia, he wrote.
& # 39; It's hard to say, but similar incidents have occurred in the western Pacific. & # 39;
Mr. Graham was one of many academics who were invited to observe the third iteration of Indo-Pacific Endeavor 2019 (IPE), which ended after three months last week, but it was not specified when the laser attack incident occurred.
He claimed that the Chinese warship has followed Australian ships for most of the transit, both on the way there and back.
Mr. Graham said that despite none of the Australian ships it had passed through a sensitive area or was occupied by the Chinese army.
Four ships, including HMA Ships Success, Newcastle and Parramatta, and MH-60R maritime combat helicopters, MRH-90 maritime support helicopters and a P8-A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft participated in the exercise. More than 1200 Australian troops were involved in the three-month exercise in various ports in India, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam (photo HMAS Canberra)
It was the first time that Australian military helicopters were aimed at laser, but the Chinese army had been accused of similar incidents in the past.
Two American pilots suffered minor injuries last year after they were laser-focused in Djibouti, where the US and China have bases.
Beijing has denied the military's involvement in laser attacks on US planes.
Mr. Graham said that the attack helicopters, which performed night flights and landings on the deck, were aimed at laser. They were forced to land for precautionary medical reasons
Head of the joint operation Mars Mars Mel Hupfeld said that this third iteration of IPE was one of the most ambitious regional engagement activities undertaken by the ADF.
& # 39; With four ships and different planes; more than 1200 employees from all over ADF, partner countries and the defense industry; this was a milestone activity for our modern joint force, & # 39; said Air Marshal Hupfeld in a statement.
Four ships, including HMA Ships Success, the maritime combat helicopters of Newcastle and Parramatta, MH-60R, helicopters for maritime support at sea and a P8-A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft participated in the three-month exercise.
More than 1200 Australian troops were involved in various activities in ports in India, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.
An e-mail has been sent to the Ministry of Defense looking for comments.
Euan Graham, a former analyst from Northeast Asia and Southeast Asia for the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, claimed that the Chinese warship followed the Australian ships for most of the transit, both on the way there and back. He said it was despite the fact that none of the Australian ships went through a sensitive area or feature that was occupied by Chinese soldiers
The rich South China Sea is bordered by Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.
China has made far-reaching demands on sovereignty over the sea and continues to build military outposts on artificial islands in controversial waters.
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