Thousands of pairs of updated protective eyewear will be distributed to Air Force pilots as the service deals with an increase in laser pointer incidents that can distract or even blind military aviators.
The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center's Human Systems Division, based out of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, is starting to field new, upgraded eyewear that can protect against both ballistics and lasers, as well as work for a variety of pilots.
A need for updated eye protection became apparent as the service has seen an increase in people using personal laser pointers — small beam projectors used for everything from classroom presentations to entertaining your pets — to target civilian and military aircraft.
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According to the latest data from the Federal Aviation Administration, there was a surge in reported laser incidents nationally, with 2021 marking a 41% increase in aircraft laser strikes compared to 2020.
In 2022, there were almost 9,500 incidents reported across the U.S. And so far in 2023, more than 10,300 incidents have been recorded with one month left in the year.
“The consequences of getting lasered without having proper protection could not only prevent the pilot from flying and landing an aircraft safely, but it could also cost them their career,” Capt. Pete Coats, lead program manager for the…