It's not new. It must be assumed deliberate when it happens near airports. It is effective.
While laser rangers on tanks and aircraft have long been known to be potential eye hazards requiring crews to be outside even a scintillance zone
/near/ the vehicle, the first I heard of them being specifically used for deliberate attacks was in the PGW-1.
Desert Storm saw many similar incidents, chiefly against helicopter crews I believe, with pilots receiving alerts from their AVR-2 warning systems
having little alternative but to withdraw.
'In Theory' you can put filtering coatings and even LCD like active fenestration on the inside of canopies and helmet visors. The Swedes also have
an active smoke grenade projector system which seems to work for helicopters.
In truth, the only real hope for fast movers, especially at ranges under 10nm, is to fly sealed cockpit. Even excluding deliberate weaponization as
with the ATL, the wattage (necessary to provide extended 20-25nm lasing for high altitude smart bomb work) is just getting too high for anything
Everyone knows it and everyone 'politely looks the other way' with attitudes ranging from (Luftwaffe MiG-29) unacknowledged deactivation of laser
rangers to legislative efforts against systems specifically designed to eye-blind. None of which has a hope in hell of working so long as lasers /for
other purposes/ retain a legitimate presence on the battlefield. And laser attacks on cockpits have higher mission-kill effects than missiles facing
Any ideas or thoughts on why so many reports of lasers being aimed at aircraft, is it just pranks being played or are people actually attempting to
bring down aircraft? I read somewhere that terrorism has been ruled out, so what gives?
In the above LINKS, it's clear one aircraft, 90nm downrange and 31,000ft high was simply an inadvertent victim. In others, specifically near
airports where the potential for interference with visual approach/flare judgments can only serve to put the entire aircraft and cabin occupants at
risk, one can only assume that the objective is a mass casualty. And punish accordingly.
It's not as soft shoe as is being made out in your articles.
Of note as well, one of the ways in which airports may be defended against MANPADS is to station DIRCM like devices (which may actually be hardkill by
now) at a central coverage point rather than try to equip every airliner.
The question then becomes whether a system capable enough to engage a missile could be used as well to disable light aircraft. It's very clear that
QRA type systems failed utterly to stop (in the time alloted before terminal penetration, let alone nudet 'proximity kills') a Cessna so that
'warning strobes' had no push-off or lethal backup.
And mechanical intercept poses the risk of weapon fallout as well as public intimidation factors of a launcher installation.