Iranian vessels shined a laser at a US attack helicopter in international airspace over the Persian Gulf on Wednesday in what the US Navy is calling an “unsafe and unprofessional manner.”
The ships from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy aimed the laser at the Marine Corps AH-1Z Viper attack helicopter “multiple times” on Wednesday evening local time, according to a statement from US Naval Forces Central Command.
The crew on the helicopter were not injured, the Navy said. Lasers can disorient and blind pilots of helicopters or aircraft, raising the risk of unsafe flight.
“These are not the actions of a professional maritime force,” said spokesman Cmdr. Rick Chernitzer. “This unsafe, unprofessional, and irresponsible behavior by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy risks U.S. and partner national lives and needs to cease immediately.”
The attack helicopter was operating from the USS Bataan, an amphibious assault ship on a scheduled deployment to the Middle East. In mid-July, the US began deploying Marines and additional forces to the Middle East in response to increased aggression from Iranian Navy vessels and IRGC vessels in the Persian Gulf and surrounding waters.