A US Navy fighter attempting to land on an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf had to maneuver to dodge an Iranian drone, which came within 100 feet (31 meters), US officials said.
The F/A-18E Super Hornet jet was on the landing approach when an Iranian drone approached, said unnamed US defense officials. The drone, identified as a QOM-1, came within 100 feet vertically and 200 feet (62 meters) laterally, the US Naval Institute reported.
The drone ignored repeated radio calls, the US officials said, describing the interaction as “unsafe and unprofessional,”according to Reuters.
While the officials did not specify which unit the US jet belonged to, the only carrier currently in the Gulf is the USS Nimitz (CVN-68), according to information made publicly available by the US Navy.
The Super Hornet was part of the Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147, assigned to the Nimitz, the US Naval Institute confirmed. It was operating in international airspace at the time of the incident, which occurred around 1pm local time on Tuesday.
In June, US fighters shot down an Iranian-made drone over southern Syria, saying it had come too close to the encampment of US-backed Syrian militants. The drone was reportedly used by the Iranian-backed militia loyal to the government in Damascus.
US ships and airplanes that come close to the borders of China, Russia and Iran are often intercepted by those countries’ aircraft, which sometimes fly very close in an attempt to drive the intruders off. “Unsafe and unprofessional” is a common phrase used by the Pentagon to describe such encounters.