What Happens When an Iranian Patrol Plane Buzzes an American Flattop
Photos depict dramatic jet fighter intercept
The new images in this post, published on Iranian Website Aerospacetalk.ir, were probably shot between January and June 2012, when the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln was in the Persian Gulf to help keep an eye on Iran.
The photos illustrate what happens when an Iranian P-3F patrol plane gets too close to an American flattop. It’s intercepted and escorted away, in this case by an F/A-18E Super Hornet of squadron VFA-137 “Kestrels,” wearing a cool digital color scheme.
The Iranian Website was down at the time of writing. It’s unclear why.
Iran has four propeller-drive P-3s that it acquired from Lockheed Martin in the mid-1970s, before the Islamic revolution transformed Iran from an American ally to one of Washington’s bitterest rivals.
Since these maritime patrol planes fly in international airspace and don’t pose a real threat to a Carrier Strike Group, a flattop doesn’t need to take any real defensive action other than tracking the surveillance plane and perhaps diverting one of its jet fighters to intercept.
An aircraft carrier doesn’t even need to change course if a spy plane pops up on radar, provided that the patroller isn’t armed and doesn’t get aggressive. Every now and then, Iranian armed speedboats and subs also pay visits to American flattops.
Washington returns the favor by relentlessly spying on Iran with a wide range of high-tech manned planes and drones.