Iranian drone buzzes US naval jet in Gulf: US




An F/A-18E Super Hornet prepares for takeoff from the flight deck of the USS Nimitz in 2013
An F/A-18E Super Hornet prepares for takeoff from the flight deck of the USS Nimitz in 2013  

Washington (AFP) - An Iranian drone flew within 100 feet (30 meters) of a US Naval jet Tuesday as the American plane was trying to land on an aircraft carrier in the 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.

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.

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What would it mean to aircraft carrier power projection and attack capability if its fighters could double the range at which they hold enemy targets at risk? Perhaps enemy targets 1,000 miles away, at sea or deep inland, could successfully be destroyed by carrier-launched fighters operating with a vastly expanded combat radius. Perhaps of equal or greater relevance, what if the re-fueler were a drone, able to operate in forward high-risk locations to support fighter jets - all while not placing a large manned tanker aircraft within range of enemy fire?

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