From the Royal Air Force military base in Lakenheath, UK, the US Air Force (USAF) has issued a public warning against the dangers and consequences of aiming laser pointers at fighter aircraft in flight.
‘Lasing’ is a term used by the USAF to denote the dangerous activity of intentionally aiming laser beams at aircraft. Pilots may be disoriented or even blinded by these laser beams, resulting in fatal accidents.
“Recent incidents of laser pointers being aimed at fighter aircraft during flight operations have raised significant concerns,” the USAF said in a statement.
The USAF declared that, aside from endangering the lives of pilots and crew, lasing can also be a hazard to the towns, villages and homes that are underneath the approach corridor of RAF Lakenheath.
“While a surface-to-air lasing incident is always a hazard for air crew’s near-term vision and long-term optical health, it becomes a critical hazard that impacts safe operation of the aircraft at low altitude,” the USAF added.
The USAF also stressed the legal ramifications and consequences that offenders may face under the Laser Misuse (Vehicle) Bill in the UK.
Under the bill, which was established in 2018, a person found guilty of laser misuse may face the following:
- conviction in England and Wales: to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months, to a fine or to both;
- conviction in Scotland: to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months, to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or to both;
- conviction in Northern Ireland: to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or to both;
- conviction on indictment: to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years, to a fine or to both.