A dangerous situation has occurred in the Persian Gulf after an Iranian drone flew as close as 100 feet of a U.S. Navy fighter jet that was staging to land on the USS Nimitz. The pesky drone made an unsafe altitude change the Navy called unprofessional. It brought the small, unmanned aircraft very close to the F/A-18 Hornet as it was in a holding pattern above the Nimitz aircraft carrier.
While the drone was within 100 feet of the jet vertically, it was about 200 feet away from the aircraft. There was no response from warning calls over the radio, so the jet fighter took evasive maneuvers to avoid colliding with the small craft before finally landing on the USS Nimitz.
A statement released by the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command said that the small drone’s actions were dangerous and failed to follow international maritime laws and customs. The statement also noted that this was the 13th time an unsafe or unprofessional action has taken place between Iranian and U.S. maritime forces this year, according to ABC News.
Following an Iranian vessel coming within 150 yards of a U.S. Navy ship, warning shots were fired to let the vessel know it was intruding on the Navy’s area of operation. That incident occurred about two weeks ago. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps ship came at the USS Thunderbolt at high speeds. The Thunderbolt warned the Iranian vessel using both voice and sound communications. However, it took multiple warning shots to turn the approaching Iranian vessel away from the U.S. Naval ship.
It is common for close encounters between Iranian vessels and U.S. Navy ships. However, it is rare for a U.S. Navy ship to be forced to a point of actually firing live rounds as warning shots. July’s incident was, for the last year, the closest two vessels from the U.S. and Iran had come within each other.
There was no word if the latest incident has caused the USS Nimitz or its battle group to tighten security any more. However, while the incident ended with no issues, it is concerning that anyone could get a drone or any other aircraft this close to a U.S. Navy fighter jet.
By Cletus Dillwood
Photo Courtesy MC3 Raul Moreno Jr./U.S. Navy