They simply will not allow a strobe light to work (at least not at a very fast rate). I have 2 800watt strobe lights and it doesn't take much for them to trip the 20 amp AFCI circuit.
I guess this would be one of those times when the AFCI is unable to determine a bad arc from a good arc...
1600/120 = 13A, so it's not an overcurrent condition.
I can't imagine how this is happening, but I don't doubt it is.
The lamps fire from a charged capacitor so I don't think this triggering signal is coming up the cord. Can you post a link to your strobes?
It could be a power factor problem, like you get with switching power supplies. This new AFCI design may be an attempt to fix this problem.
And, from a paper on aircraft AFCIs,
"Many standard aircraft loads and
normal operating conditions on aircraft can exhibit seemingly anomalous waveform signatures. These
can include motor start-ups, strobe lights, landing lights, bus transfers, TRU’s, incandescent and
fluorescent lighting loads, and mechanical switches opening and closing. "