Iran rejects claims of unsafe conduct in the Gulf

Iran's Revolutionary Guards rejects claims that one of its drones flew close to an American aircraft in the Persian Gulf.

Elad Benari,

Iran's Revolutionary Guards
Iran's Revolutionary Guards

Iran's Revolutionary Guards on Tuesday rejected claims that one of its drones had flown close to an American aircraft without its lights on, AFP reported.

On Monday, the U.S. Navy said that an Iranian QOM-1 drone had flown within 300 meters (1,000 feet) of an aircraft based on the carrier USS Nimitz operating in international waters in the Persian Gulf.

"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 U.S. aircraft," Navy spokesman Lieutenant Ian McConnaughey said.

It was the second such incident in a week, after an Iranian drone nearly collided with a U.S. Navy F-18 Super Hornet while the American jet was in a holding pattern in the Persian Gulf.

The Guards drone unit said in a statement on Tuesday, "The Guards' drone patrols... will continue in the Persian Gulf with precision, constantly and in the framework of protecting the borders of the Islamic republic of Iran and regardless of the psychological atmosphere created by alien forces.”

The statement added that U.S. claims of "unsafe and unprofessional" conduct were perhaps the result of "a weakness in their identification and recognition systems".

There have been several close encounters between American and Iranian vessels in the Gulf in recent months.

In July, a U.S. Navy ship fired warning shots at an Iranian ship in the Persian Gulf, after the Iranian vessel came within 150 yards of the U.S. vessel.

In June, an Iranian missile boat pointed a laser at a U.S. Marine helicopter while two Navy warships and a cargo ship were transiting out of the Persian Gulf through the Strait of Hormuz.

The laser triggered a response and the U.S. helicopter automatically fired off flares toward the offending vessel.

In March, the U.S. aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush confronted two sets of Iranian Navy fast-attack boats that had approached a U.S.-led, five-vessel flotilla as it entered the Strait.