USA aircraft targeted with lasers in Djibouti: Pentagon

Marines djibouti

Last month, airmen from the Lemonnier base were warned in a notice sent by the US military that they may be in danger of being hit with laser beams coming from the Chinese base.

In one case, two pilots on a C-130 cargo plane suffered minor eye injuries as they came in to land at the base in the Horn of Africa nation, another spokeswoman, Major Sheryll Klinkel said.

The malicious use of lasers to flash-blind pilots has been a worldwide problem over the past two decades.

China formally established its first overseas military base in Djibouti past year, within sight of the U.S.'s military base.

The laser incidents are a significant concern to USA military forces in the region and can cause major accidents, according to CNN.

As a result of the incident, the US has sent an official diplomatic complaint to China, asking authorities there to look into these incidents.

Over the past years, the United States has sent military vessels and aircraft to the region in what it describes as "freedom of navigation operations".

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In early April, a U.S. Marine Corps Harrier jet crashed at the country's worldwide airport, the same day a Marine Corps CH-53 chopper sustained minor damage while landing in Arta Beach.

"U.S. Africa Command views security and access to Djibouti as a top priority".

It is the only permanent USA military base in Africa. Around 4,000 USA military personal are stationed at Camp Lemonnier.

USA forces have had a permanent base in the country since 2001.

This year, the US military put countering China, along with Russian Federation, at the center of a new national defense strategy. China opened a naval base in Djibouti just a few miles away. US officials are now presented with the task of keeping an eye on China's activity in the area. "Consequently, we continue to monitor this development to ensure USA interests are not deterred", Waldhauser said during congressional testimony in March.

"We are taking significant steps on the counterintelligence side so that we have all the defenses that we need there, there is no doubt about that", Waldhauser said, referring to the proximity of the new Chinese base.

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