WASHINGTON — An F/A-18E Super Hornet attached to the aircraft carrier Nimitz had to take evasive measures to avoid an Iranian drone that came within 100 feet of the aircraft in the central Persian Gulf, a U.S. defense official said Tuesday.
The Super Hornet was in a holding pattern at about 1 p.m. Tuesday above the carrier when it nearly collided with the Iranian QOM-1 unmanned aerial vehicle, the official said.
“There were repeated radio calls to stay clear of the active fixed wing operations,” the official said.
As the two aircraft closed in, the Super Hornet “did a roll over” the drone to avoid collision, according to the official.
“If the F/A-18 had not done the maneuver,” the two aircraft would have collided, the official said. At their closest, the two aircraft were 100 vertical feet and 200 lateral feet part from each other.
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.
The Super Hornet landed safely and the drone eventually departed.
The encounter marked the 13th unsafe or unprofessional flight incident involving Iran this year, the official said.