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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 June 2018

Iranian drone comes within 100 feet of US naval jet in Arabian Gulf

The drone flew within 100 feet of a US naval jet in what the US have called a "dangerous manoeuvre" 

US fighter jets fired warning flares at Russian planes in a non-conflict area in Syria. Lockheed Martin/US Air Force via Bloomberg
US fighter jets fired warning flares at Russian planes in a non-conflict area in Syria. Lockheed Martin/US Air Force via Bloomberg

An Iranian drone flew within 100 feet (30 meters) of a US Naval jet on Tuesday as the American plane was trying to land on an aircraft carrier in the Arabian Gulf, the Navy said.

The encounter unfolded in international air space as the F/A-18E Super Hornet was preparing to land on the USS Nimitz, US Naval Forces Central Command spokesman Commander Bill Urban said.

He said that despite repeated radio calls to stay clear of flight operations near the Nimitz, the Iranian drone executed "unsafe and unprofessional" altitude changes near the F/A 18.

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The US jet had to maneuver to avoid collision, with the drone passing just 100 feet away at its closest point.

"The dangerous maneuver by the QOM-1 in the known vicinity of fixed-wing flight operations and at coincident altitude with operating aircraft created a collision hazard and is not in keeping with international maritime customs and laws," Urban said.

He added this was the 13th "unsafe and/or unprofessional" interaction between US and Iranian maritime forces this year.

In July, a US Navy patrol ship fired warning shots at an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps boat in the Gulf as it closed in on the American vessel.

In a statement, the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command confirmed the incident between the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz and the Iranian QOM-1 unmanned aerial vehicle, adding: "Despite repeated radio calls to stay clear of active fixed-wing flight operations in vicinity of USS Nimitz, the QOM-1 executed unsafe and unprofessional altitude changes in the close vicinity of an F/A-18E in a holding pattern preparing to land on the aircraft carrier.

"The F/A-18E maneuvered to avoid collision with the QOM-1 resulting in a lateral separation of approximately 200 feet and a vertical separation of approximately 100 feet."