An Iranian drone created a collision hazard for a U.S. fighter jet attempting to land on an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf on Tuesday. The incident reflects the ever-present risk of miscalculation and an accident involving military personnel of two nations.
A statement from the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command clarified the details of the encounter.
“While operating in international airspace in the Central Arabian Gulf, an F/A-18E Super Hornet from the “Argonauts” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147 assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) had an unsafe and unprofessional interaction with an Iranian QOM-1 unmanned aerial vehicle Aug. 8,” the statement said.
The U.S. Navy noted that the drone did not respond to repeated radio calls to stay clear of the area and conducted unsafe and unprofessional altitude changes close to the fighter jet.
It “created a collision hazard and is not keeping with international maritime customs and laws,” the U.S. Navy said, adding that the incident was the 13th dangerous interaction between the U.S. and Iranian maritime forces this year.
Nevertheless, the number of unsafe interactions between the U.S. and Iranian forces in the first half of 2017 is lower than it was over the same period last year.
In the first half of 2016, there were 19 dangerous U.S. interactions with the Iranians, according to a Fox News report that cited defense officials.
The latest encounter between an Iranian drone and the U.S. jet is only a small symptom of a larger conflict that stems from the geopolitical jockeying for influence. The administration of President Donald J. Trump openly backs Saudi Arabia and Gulf countries amid Tehran’s regional muscle-flexing.