An Iranian drone came within 100 feet of a U.S. Navy F/A-18 fighter jet that was waiting to land on the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier in the central Persian Gulf, two U.S. officials confirmed.
The jet was in a holding pattern about 1,000 feet above the Nimitz when the unarmed Iranian drone performed an “unsafe and unprofessional altitude change” in its vicinity, one official said, adding that the drone came within 100 feet underneath and 200 feet horizontally from the U.S. jet.
It did not respond to warnings in the form of radio calls, prompting the jet to maneuver to avoid a collision, a second official told ABC News.
In a statement, the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command called the drone’s actions a “dangerous maneuver” and that it was “not in keeping with international maritime customs and laws.”
“This is the 13th unsafe and/or unprofessional interaction between U.S. and Iranian maritime forces in 2017,” the statement said.
Two weeks ago, a U.S. Navy ship fired multiple warning shots at an Iranian vessel in the Persian Gulf that came within 150 yards of the U.S. ship.
The Iranian vessel, belonging to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, approached the USS Thunderbolt at a high speed despite its warnings, including voice communications and sound signals.
It wasn’t until warning shots were fired that the Iranian craft halted its approach, the Navy said.
While close encounters between U.S. ships and Iranian small craft in the Gulf are common, it’s rare for a U.S. ship to fire warning shots. July’s incident was the closest that an Iranian vessel had come to a U.S. ship in the Gulf in at least a year.