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Iranian Drone Buzzes US Navy Fighter Jet During Carrier Landing

An F/A-18F Super Hornet assigned to the Black Knights of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 154 lands on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68). (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Raul Moreno Jr.)
An F/A-18F Super Hornet assigned to the Black Knights of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 154 lands on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68). (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Raul Moreno Jr.)

An F/A-18 Super Hornet was forced to maneuver away after being buzzed by an Iranian drone during a carrier landing attempt in the Central Arabian Gulf, Navy officials said Tuesday.

The aircraft, which belonged to Strike Fighter Squadron 147, was in a holding pattern while preparing to land aboard the carrier Nimitz, officials with U.S. Navy Central Command said.

The unarmed Iranian QOM-1 drone approached, coming within 100 feet vertically and 200 feet laterally of the aircraft, ignoring radio calls to stay clear of aircraft operations.

"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," said Lt. Chloe Morgan, a NAVCENT spokeswoman, in a statement.

"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," she said.

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Morgan said Tuesday's incident was the 13th unsafe or unprofessional maritime interaction with Iranian forces to date this year.

It comes just weeks after a Navy patrol craft, the USS Thunderbolt, was forced to fire warning shots from its .50-caliber machine guns in July to stop the dangerous approach of vessels belonging to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy.

In May, the commanding officer of the carrier George H.W. Bush, Capt. Will Pennington, told Military.com that Iranian drones regularly harassed the carrier while it was deployed in the Gulf.

"That is a capability that the entire world is getting, and Iran is no different," he told Military.com in an interview aboard the Bush. "These aren't small, radio-controlled drones. They're reconnaissance."

The Nimitz recently arrived in the region to replace the Bush, which is expected to return shortly to its homeport in Norfolk.

-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at hope.seck@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.

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