For the second time in a week, an Iranian drone flew too close for the Navy’s comfort in the Persian Gulf.
The latest incident took place in the early evening on Sunday, when a QOM-1 drone came within 1,000 feet of U.S. jets operating from the carrier Nimitz, Naval Forces Central Command officials said.
It marks the 14th unsafe or unprofessional flight incident involving Iran this year, according to defense officials.
“Despite repeated radio calls to establish communications and remain clear, the QOM-1‘s controlling station was unresponsive and the (drone) did not use any navigation lights while it made several passes in close proximity to Nimitz and its escort ships during active flight operations,” NAVCENT spokesman Lt. Ian McConnaughey said in a statement.
The failure of the drone’s controllers to use standard, internationally mandated navigation lights during a nighttime approach created a perilous situation and potential for collision, he said.
The carrier strike group took no further action and the drone flew away, McConnaughey said.
Sunday’s encounter was the second Iranian drone interaction with the strike group in a week.
An F/A-18E Super Hornet attached to the carrier had to take evasive measures Tuesday to avoid a drone that came within 100 feet of the aircraft, a defense official said.
The jet was in a holding pattern that afternoon above the carrier when it nearly collided with a QOM-1 and ”did a roll over” to avoid the collision, according to the official.
Hours prior to the incident, the unarmed drone had been loitering about 4 nautical miles away from the Nimitz at an altitude of about 7,000 feet, the official said.
Geoff is a senior staff reporter for Military Times, focusing on the Navy. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was most recently a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.