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Iranian Navy Trains Laser on US Chopper, Turns Spotlight on American Ship


FILE - USS Cole

An Iranian military vessel trained a laser on an American helicopter that was accompanying three U.S. military ships in the Strait of Hormuz, Navy officials said Wednesday.

Commander Bill Urban, spokesman for the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, said the Iranian vessel, which came within 730 meters of the USS Baatan assault ship, acted in an "unsafe and unprofessional" manner late Tuesday.

"The amphibious assault ship USS Bataan, guided missile destroyer USS Cole and dry cargo ship USNS Washington Chambers were transiting the Strait when the Iranian vessel paralleled the U.S. formation, shining a spotlight on Cole," Urban said.

He said the Iranian vessel later trained a laser on a CH-53E helicopter and turned its spotlight on the USS Bataan before leaving the area.

Urban explained that illuminating helicopters with lasers at night is dangerous because it creates a navigational hazard that can impair vision and disorient pilots who are using night-vision goggles.

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    Carla Babb

    Carla is VOA's Pentagon correspondent covering defense and international security issues. Her datelines include Ukraine, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Korea.

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