Iran boat beams laser at U.S. helicopter over Strait of Hormuz

by WorldTribune Staff, June 15, 2017

An Iranian missile boat shined a laser at a U.S. Marine Corps helicopter flying over the Strait of Hormuz on June 13 in what the U.S. military called an “unsafe and unprofessional” action.

The Iranian vessel also turned its spotlight on two Navy ships that the helicopter was accompanying as they transited the strait, according to U.S. Navy Commander Bill Urban, a U.S. Fifth Fleet spokesman.

CH-53E Super Stallion heavy-lift helicopter. / U.S. Navy photo

The Marine CH-53E Super Stallion heavy-lift helicopter automatically fired flares in response to the laser.

Urban said the Iranian boat came within 800 yards of the USS Bataan, an amphibious assault ship, and “scanned it from bow to stern” with the spotlight. It also directed the beam on the USS Cole, a guided-missile destroyer, Urban said.

No one was injured and there was no damage to the ships or helicopter in the incident, Urban said.

Urban said the Iranian action was considered unsafe because “illuminating helicopters with lasers at night is dangerous as it creates a navigational hazard that can impair vision and can be disorienting to pilots using night-vision goggles.”

The incident is the latest in a series of provocations from Iran, Israel’s Arutz Sheva reported on June 15.

In March, the U.S. aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush confronted two sets of Iranian Navy fast-attack boats that had approached a U.S.-led, five-vessel flotilla as it entered the Strait.

Also in March, Iranian military vessels had a close encounter with a U.S. surveillance ship in the Strait of Hormuz. The incident was described by American officials as an “unsafe” and “unprofessional” maneuver by the Iranians. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards accused the United States of provoking tensions which led to the incident.

In January, a U.S. Navy ship fired warning shots at Iranian boats near the Strait of Hormuz, after five Iranian vessels approached the USS Mahan and two other American ships that were entering the strait.

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