An Iranian drone buzzed the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz several times on Sunday, making this the second unsafe interaction between the carrier and an Iranian drone in a week, the US Navy has said.
The unnamed, unarmed Iranian QOM-1/Sadegh-1 aircraft risked collision when it came within 1,000 feet of planes flying from USS Nimitz, which was operating in the central Persian Gulf, according to Cmdr. Bill Urban, spokesman for the U.S. Fifth Fleet. He criticized the remote-controlled flight as “unsafe and unprofessional” and said it “created a dangerous situation with the potential for collision.”
The Nimitz made repeated radio calls to establish communications with the drone, but the aircraft’s controlling station did not respond, Urban said.
The drone also did not use any aircraft navigation lights when it made “several passes” near the Nimitz and its escort ships during active flight operations.
“The failure of the Iranian [unmanned aerial vehicle] to utilize standard, internationally-mandated navigation lights during a night time approach of a U.S. aircraft carrier engaged in flight operations created a dangerous situation with the potential for collision and is not in keeping with international maritime customs and laws,” Urban said.
Sunday’s incident comes after an F/A-18E Super Hornet that was preparing to land on the Nimitz was forced to take evasive action last week when an Iranian drone came close to the plane.
The F/A-18E was preparing to land on the aircraft carrier when the drone “executed unsafe and unprofessional altitude changes in the close vicinity” of the U.S. warplane.
Takeoffs and landings at sea are inherently dangerous under normal circumstances, requiring extreme concentration and precision to avoid calamity. Tuesday’s incident, which U.S. officials said occurred in international airspace, is an unsettling development for that reason, and it marks the latest threatening encounter between the two militaries.
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