Iranian drone fly-by endangered US pilots, Navy says
An Iranian drone has flown close enough to a U.S. aircraft carrier to put the lives of American pilots of F-18 fighter jets at risk, the U.S. Navy said on August 14, RFE/RL reports.
In the second such close encounter in a week, an Iranian QOM-1 drone late on August 13 flew within 300 meters of the USS Nimitz in an "unsafe and unprofessional" manner without its lights on, said U.S. Naval Forces Central Command spokesman Lieutenant Ian McConnaughey.
Controllers for the drone did not respond to radio requests for communications, he said, adding that the drone was unarmed but that it was a model that can carry missiles.
McConnaughey said flying the drone without lights "created a dangerous situation with the potential for collision" and was not in keeping with international maritime customs and laws.
U.S. officials have complained of 14 such unsafe close encounters this year, almost always involving Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, which Washington recently targeted with sanctions.
Last week, officials said an Iranian drone nearly collided with a U.S. fighter jet that was landing on the aircraft carrier.
Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps issued a statement on August 15 saying their drones are guided "accurately and professionally," dismissing the U.S. Navy's concerns as "unfounded."