WASHINGTON: An Iranian drone with no lights on flew close to US aircraft operating in the Gulf, US officials said Monday, in what they called an “unsafe and unprofessional” incident.
The Sunday night event saw an Iranian QOM-1 drone fly within 1,000 feet (300 meters) of aircraft based on the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier operating in international waters, Navy spokesman Lieutenant Ian McConnaughey said in a statement.
“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 aircraft navigation lights while it made several passes in close proximity to Nimitz and its escort ships during active flight operations, coming within 1,000 feet of US aircraft,” he said.
The failure to use standard, internationally mandated navigation lights at night “created a dangerous situation with the potential for collision” and was not in keeping with international maritime customs and laws, McConnaughey added.
The incident follows an August 8 encounter when an Iranian drone flew within 100 feet (30 meters) of an F/A-18E Super Hornet.
The US jet had to maneuver to avoid collision, with the drone passing just 100 feet away at its closest point.—AFP