Originally Posted by Red Heeler
Without a tripod and a scope, even managing to shine the laser on a plane that is, at the very least, over half a mile away and traveling at 300 mph is not very easy.
Yet it happened at least 200 times over a six-year span.
A plane descends along a very specific path at a very specific speed and a very specific angle. Get in that path, and the cockpit is a stationary target located between the red wing light and the green wing light.
To creek's point about the equipment in use here, she's hinting at the reason I've been looking for more substantive info. Look; Homeland Security is involved. Perhaps due to a knee-jerk CYA fear about a worst-case scenario. But certainly not because of the threat of a crash from blinded pilots. You see a flash, you turn away, and you pull up and go around for another try.
So perhaps this isn't a Homeland Defense CYA. Perhaps they have info that terrorists are reconnoitering airport flight paths using precision laser range finders like this
commercially available one. One guy, who will eventually be a shooter, watches planes land at night while a buddy calls out distances. Later, the shooter will return with a shoulder-fired surface-to-air missile, eyeball the range and speed of the plane, shoot it down on approach, and slip away into the night.
Or, perhaps since IR-guided SAMs lose most of their lethality when fired from the front, terrorists are doing some proof-of-concept on laser-designating their targets, hoping to improve their missiles' effectiveness. Russian ATGMs, for example, come in man-portable varieties and can be effective against slow-moving air targets (like planes on approach). When fired from the ground, they are usually IR-guided, but can have a laser-guided capability when fired from an airborne platform. It may be possible to port this laser capability to the MANPAD variety. It may have happened already.
Food for thought. We aren't just talking about penlights here.