U.S. F-22 stealth fighter pilot taunted Iranian F-4 Phantom combat planes over the Persian Gulf

Sep 19 2013 - 340 Comments

Earlier this year, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little, said that an IRIAF (Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force) F-4 Phantom combat plane attempted to intercept a U.S. MQ-1 drone flying in international airspace off Iran.

As we reported back then, one of the two F-4 Phantom jets came to about 16 miles from the UAV but broke off pursuit after they were broadcast a warning message by two American planes escorting the Predator.

The episode happened in March 2013, few months after a two Sukhoi Su-25 attack planes operated by the Pasdaran (informal name of the IRGC – the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution) attempted to shoot down an American MQ-1 flying a routine surveillance flight in international airspace some 16 miles off Iran, the interception of the unmanned aircraft failed. After this attempted interception the Pentagon decided to escort the drones involved in ISR (intelligence surveillance reconnaissance)  missions with fighter jets (either F-18 Hornets with the CVW 9 embarked on the USS John C. Stennis whose Carrier Strike Group is currently in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility or F-22 Raptors like those deployed to Al Dhafra in the UAE.

New details about the episode were recently disclosed by Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh who on Sept. 17 not only confirmed that the fighter jets providing HVAAE (High Value Air Asset Escort) were F-22 stealth fighters but also said that:

“He [the Raptor pilot] flew under their aircraft [the F-4s] to check out their weapons load without them knowing that he was there, and then pulled up on their left wing and then called them and said ‘you really ought to go home'”

If the episode went exactly as Welsh described it, it was something more similar to Maverick’s close encouter with Russian Mig-28s in Top Gun movie than a standard interception.

It would be interesting to know how the Raptor managed to remain stealth (did they use their radar? were they vectored by an AWACS? etc.) and why it was not the E-2 most probably providing Airborne Early Warning in the area to broadcast the message to persuade the F-4 to pursuit the drone before the Iranian Phantoms and the U.S. Raptors got too close in a potentially dangerous and tense situation?

Anyway the U.S. pilot achieved to scare the Iranian pilots off and save the drone. A happy ending worthy of an action movie.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

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  • mu119

    The Japanese called Perry’s fleet as the Black Ships.

  • WTF

    But the soldiers and marines on the ground want the ordnance to be delivered accurately. Thank God for the navy and Marine aviation.

  • Andyj

    True or not, there was never any indication the Iranians budged. Those F4’s are dog old bits of yank junk from the outset. Merely weapons platforms.
    There’s a well touted youtube video pair of F16’s scrambled to find a MiG31 over international waters over Norway. The MiG over took them from behind and flew in formation with them.
    Modern Russian stuff has rear radar and IRST. Yanks? They fly half blind compared.

  • Brian C. Douglas

    Now that’s typical military logic. Buy drones because they’re less expensive. Use them in ISR missions, the operational cost is much less than a fighter’s. Then assign fighter escorts to fly with the drone. Why not just have the fighter fly ISR?

  • Maziar


    Tow F4 and they hadn’t saw the raptor? duude this is kinda looks like halliwood movies. J I joe and etc

  • renault314

    Heres a funny Iranian F-4 story for ya.
    I worked as an avionics tech on the U-2. One of the things we do on real world missions is retrieve the recorder that has sigint on it, but it also has cockpit voice recordings. We were flying missions to Afghanistan (OEF) out of UAE up through Pakistan skirting the Iranian border. They would send up f-4’s all the time to shadow the U-2. For some reason the U-2’s audio communication with the AWACS was being accidentally rebroadcast over guard frequency, so the Iranian air defense controller could hear the conversation. The Iranian AD controller called the AWACS on the radio and let them know they could hear the routine, boring communication and the AWACS relayed this to the U-2 pilot. The U-2 pilot, who will go unnamed decided to have some fun. He screamed into the radio “engaging flight of enemy F-4’s! Fox2, Splash one! Fox2, Splash 2! Going guns on third! Guns Guns Guns!”
    The Iranian AD controller started screaming to cease fire over and over and we could hear him crapping his pants in the recording. According to the pilot the AWACS said that the flight of Iranian F-4’s dove for the ground and headed home.
    For those of you that don’t know, the U-2 is a recon plane and carries no weapons. The Iranians know this too, which just makes it funnier that they bugged out so fast. The colonel running the debrief wasn’t amused with his captain trying to start a war, but the maintainers thought it was hilarious. We listened to the recording for days.

  • William Jesse Miller

    may be.. I don’t know anything about that so i have nothing to offer ;-)

  • William Jesse Miller

    thats interesting

  • Shelly Williams

    I guess Black Sheep Squadron during WW2 should have left the flying to the Air Force as well

  • Shelly Williams

    What country has the US ever over run and enslaved ? lets See defeat Germany we build them up and give them freedom we beat Japan we build them up and give them freedom. We defeat Iraq we try and build them up give them freedom and leave. We defeat the Taliban for the most part spend billions of US dollars building schools and roads and toilets. Turn the Afghanistan government back over to the Afghanistan people and were leaving. So what country anywhere in the world have we conquered and enslaved?

  • Shelly Williams

    What biological weapons did the US use in Vietnam? I do know we sprayed agent Orange to kill the Jungle to make it so the enemy had know place to hide. And at times tear gas was used.

    • Max Glazer

      Yeah. And slaughtering entire villages from the air. Napalm bombing. White phosphorus.

      Chem or bio – next to irrelevant when you see the results of the actions. You lot poisoned their water amount of people affected is massive, children to this day are born with severe abnormalities.

  • Max Glazer

    Japan suffered the same amount of immediate casualties from nukes as they did from every firebombing you pathetic lot unleashed on them. The nuclear bombs didn’t make them surrender. Japan never struck your cities. They hit your military bases. You bombed their civilian centres.

    Have a read of this and THEN try to teach ME on what the reason was.



    Truman laboured over morality? What a joke. He wanted nothing other then to show USSR that he had a bomb that can do a LOT of devastation to keep Stalin worried.

  • rats123

    Disgusting lies to legitimise an abhorrent war crime!

    If what you say is true than the Japanese would have had even more reason to continue fighting.

    The Japanese surrendered because of the soviets declaring war on them and not the use of atomic bombs.

  • YuKang Park

    Uh…ok. First off, it’s not stealth, it’s VLO. Very Low Observability. Basically means the plane is much harder to detect, rather than completely invisible. No such thing as invisible. And it’s not something you turn on and off. It’s persistent. Second, the F-4 Phantom’s radar is on the nose and scans forward. It can’t actively scan behind it, though the F4 can detect if it is being scanned by another plane from any vector. All the F-22 Pilot had to do to sneak up on the F4 was 1. Use his VLO advantage (F4 can’t detect the F-22 at any meaningful range with its radar) 2. Avoid giving himself away with his own radar (he certainly had some other radar system like an AWACS to vector him in) 3. Stay behind and below the F4 (pilot can’t see behind and below from cockpit). And why send in a jet for a direct confrontation when you could broadcast a message from a safe distance? Because the US military was trying to intimidate and send a message to their opponents. Best way to do that was to sneak up behind the F4, say “Boo!”, get in his face, then say, “Go home, sonny.”

  • J calderon

    What would the case be if Iranian drones were collecting intelligence in international airspace 16 miles off of the United States? The U.S. does whatever it wants as this self righteous police officer of the world.