An Iranian drone came within 30 meters of a U.S. Navy fighter jet that was waiting to land on the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz as it traveled in the central Persian Gulf, the U.S. Navy and U.S. Central Command said Tuesday.
U.S. military statements said an F/A-18E Super Hornet jet was in a holding pattern above the USS Nimitz when a QOM-1 Iranian drone “executed unsafe and unprofessional altitude changes” nearby.
“The F/A-18E maneuvered to avoid collision with the QOM-1 resulting in a lateral separation of approximately 200 feet [61 meters] and a vertical separation of approximately 100 feet [30 meters]."
The Navy said sailors had made repeated radio calls for the drone to stay clear of the flight operations around the USS Nimitz.
A U.S. Navy official told VOA Tuesday the incident was a “single run-in,” but the drone had been flying in an area around the carrier for about three hours. The drone was not armed at the time of the incident, the official added.
The near-collision marked the “13th unsafe and/or professional interaction between U.S. and Iranian maritime forces” this year, according to the Navy and Central Command statements.
Last month, the USS Thunderbolt fired multiple warning shots at an Iranian vessel in the Persian Gulf that came within 140 meters of the ship at a high rate of speed.