Threats to dazzle RAF base’s pilots with lasers

A Hawk aircraft taking off from RAF Leeming.
A Hawk aircraft taking off from RAF Leeming.
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Anonymous telephone threats to dazzle pilots from RAF Leeming with high-powered torches and laser pens have been made to the base.

Due to the nature of the threats, North Yorkshire Police strongly believe the threats have come from people living in the surrounding area.

Sgt Jerry Perrin, of Bedale Safer Neighbourhood Team, said: “We are working closely with our colleagues in the military to identify those responsible for these threats and will deal robustly with anyone we suspect of being guilty.

“Should anyone actually shine a torch or laser pointer at an aeroplane and cause it to crash the aftermath is unthinkable.”

Article 222 of the Air Navigation Order 2009 states that it is a criminal offence to use a light in such a way that will dazzle or distract a pilot of an aircraft.

While RAF Leeming is much quieter since the last Tornado F3 fighters left in 2008, it still operates Hawk and Tutor aircraft carrying out roles which provide essential support to UK and worldwide air operations. The base also hosts a wide-variety of other exercises throughout the year.

Its proximity to military training areas in the North makes RAF Leeming a destination of choice for aircrews conducting essential pre-deployment training for duties in Afghanistan and other operational theatres.

Sqn Ldr Paul Richley, the station’s flight safety officer, said: “Such threats to the aircraft operating at RAF Leeming is extremely worrying.

“A pilot’s workload when making an approach to land requires a lot of concentration, especially at night. Anything that would cause the pilot to lose concentration puts the pilot and the aircraft at a totally unnecessary risk. Also, the risk of damage to the eyesight of a pilot from these actions is very high.

“If residents around the base have a concern, we welcome the opportunity to talk through their issues rather than resort to actions that could cause an aircraft accident and also result in criminal charges being pressed by North Yorkshire Police.”