Aug. 8 (UPI) — An Iranian drone came within 100 feet of a U.S. Navy fighter jet preparing to land on the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier in the central Persian Gulf, a situation the Defense Department described as “dangerous.”
U.S. Central Command said in a release the F/A-18E Super Hornet, which is part of Strike Fighter Squadron 147, was operating in international airspace.
At about 2 p.m. Tuesday, the drone, described as an Iranian QOM-1 unmanned aerial vehicle, “executed unsafe and unprofessional altitude changes” despite repeated radio calls to stay clear of the flight operation,” the U.S. military said.
The drone was 200 feet away from the jet and 100 feet away from it vertically, the U.S. military said.
The Super Hornet “did a roll over” the drone to avoid collision, a Naval official told Navy Times.
“If the F/A-18 had not done the maneuver,” the two aircraft would have collided, the official said.
Hours before the incident, the drone was about 4 nautical miles from the Nimitz at an altitude of about 7,000 feet, the official said.
Tuesday’s encounter marks the 13th “unsafe or unprofessional interaction” between U.S. and Iranian maritime forces in 2017, the U.S. Defense Department said.
On July 28, the Nimitz was involved in another incident. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said the carrier fired warning flares as their vessels approached an oil and gas platform in the Persian Gulf.
Three days earlier in the gulf, the USS Thunderbolt fired multiple warning shots at an armed Iranian patrol boat believed to be operated by the IRGC. The vessel stopped after being warned to avoid a collision.