A U.S. F/A-18E Super Hornet fighter jet had an “unsafe and unprofessional” interaction with an Iranian QOM-1 unmanned aerial vehicle on Tuesday, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said, and the fighter jet had to maneuver to avoid a collision.
ABC News reported that the jet was in a holding pattern about 1,000 feet above the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz, in the Central Persian Gulf, when the unarmed drone performed an “unsafe and unprofessional altitude change,” according to one official. The drone came within 100 under and 200 feet horizontally of the fighter jet.
The Super Hornet from the “Argonauts” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147, assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) was operating in international airspace in the Central Arabian Gulf when the incident took place.
“Despite repeated radio calls to stay clear of active fixed-wing flight operations in vicinity of USS Nimitz, the QOM-1 executed unsafe and unprofessional altitude changes in the close vicinity of an F/A-18E in a holding pattern preparing to land on the aircraft carrier,” CENTCOM said.
“The F/A-18E maneuvered to avoid collision with the QOM-1, resulting in a lateral separation of approximately 200 feet and a vertical separation of approximately 100 feet,” it said. “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.”
This is the 13th unsafe and, or unprofessional encounter between U.S. and Iranian maritime forces this year, CENTOM pointed out.