Laser beams along Oman coast pose hazard to pilots: CMF

Muscat - 

Aircraft from the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) operating out of Oman have recently been harassed by lasers being shone by unidentified individuals from locations along the coast as they conduct maritime security patrols.

Disclosing that five separate incidents took place in November this year, CMF officials said in a statement that the laser beams, which were either blue or green in colour, posed 'a very real hazard to operations'. In what were described as 'continued incidents along the Omani coast', officials said they were fortunate that protective eyewear worn by pilots had allowed missions to continue.

A senior CMF spokesperson, speaking from Bahrain, said that laser illumination incidents are common and a concern worldwide. The motive behind the incidents was unknown and could have been the result of mishandling of a device, or malicious intent.

“The purpose of their inclusion in our monthly report is to alert crews that this hazard is also present along the Omani coast so that appropriate protective measures can be taken. The origin of the lasings remains undetermined and this is an issue for local authorities to address,” said Lt Cdr Carolyn Jones, deputy public affairs officer.

Two other main dangers to flight crew operating out of the Musannah airbase highlighted in the report included the continued risk of bird strikes in the area and the large amount of Foreign Object Disposal (FOD) - debris that can harm aircraft on take off or landing - due to continued construction taking place near-by.

“Bird concentrations are a concern at all airfields worldwide. Each airfield uses different measures to minimise the impacts of wildlife on air operations. These measures range from noise cannons to falcons. Accordingly, we provide an advisory to aircrew so that they are vigilant regarding this pot-ential hazard,” said Lt Cdr Jones.

“Airfield construction is always a concern with respect to FOD. Accordingly, this issue is not unique to Musannah. The fact of ongoing construction is worth noting so that crews who do not usually fly into this airfield are aware of the potential hazard.”

The CMF is a 27-nation naval partnership aimed at improving security across more than 2mn square miles of regional waters.

The organisation, headquartered at the US Navy's Naval Support Activity in Bahrain, comprises three main task forces: Combined Task Force 150 engaged in maritime security and counter terrorism, the counter piracy CTF 151, and the Arabian Gulf security and cooperation mission of CTF 152.

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