An Iranian drone nearly collided with a U.S. F/A-18E Super Hornet fighter plane over the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Nimitz in the Persian Gulf Tuesday.
The QOM-1 drone flew within 100 feet of the Navy jet as the Super Hornet was preparing to land.
“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,” a U.S. Navy press release stated.
The fighter plane had to perform a “roll over” to avoid collision.
A Navy spokesman told The Navy Times that if the F/A-18E “had not done the maneuver,” the two aircraft would have collided, a Navy spokesperson told The Navy Times.
“There were repeated radio calls to stay clear of the active fixed wing operations,” the spokesman said.
The drone had apparently been flying around the carrier for some time before buzzing it.
The QOM-1 or Saqeh is an unmanned drone that looks sort of like a small fighter plane. A picture of the drone released by the Iranian military shows it carrying four rockets similar to U.S. Hellfire missiles.
A nuclear-powered carrier such as the Nimitz carries a crew of about 4,500 sailors and officers and around 75 aircraft. Only two nations — the United States and France — have nuclear-powered carriers.
Military experts believe that the Iranians back-engineered the Saqeh drones from a US RQ-170 drone manufactured by Lockheed Martin, the Voice of America reported.
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