Here you can find some new photographs taken from aboard the U.S. flattop as the P-3F took a close look at the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier (ok, it’s not really buzzing the tower, but it’s not that far away).
It’s unclear whether the “flyby” was conducted on the same day the Iranian plane was escorted by the Hornet; still, the new images not only prove close encounters in the region occur but they also clearly show the indiscreet Orion in the “exotic” IRIAF color scheme.
Image credit: U.S. Navy via Militaryphotos.net (thanks to FdeStV and Kasra Ghanbari for the heads-up)
In 2012 a P-3 Orion decided to fly close to a U.S. carrier at sea. And these images show what happened next.
The images in this post, published on an Iranian site (that is currently down) were probably between January and June 2012, when USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) operated in the Persian Gulf.
They show what happens each time an Iranian Navy Fokker 27 or P-3 Orion (as in this case) decides to skirt an American flattops that is operating within the Fifth Fleet AOR (Area Of Responsibility): it’s intercepted and escorted (in this case by an F/A-18E Super Hornet of the VFA-137 “Kestrels” in cool digital color scheme.
Since these maritime patrol planes fly in international airspace and don’t pose a real threat to the Strike Group, the aircraft carrier doesn’t need to take any real defensive action other than tracking the surveillance plane all time or divert one of its fighter jets to intercept it.
Aircraft carriers don’t even need to change their course if a spyplane pops up on the radar, provided that it is not armed and it doesn’t show an aggressive behaviour.
The S-300 is a Soviet long range SAM (Surface to Air Missile) developed to defend against aircraft and cruise missiles with variants developed to intercept ballistic missiles.
The Iranian Air Defense Forces have some modern air defense systems such as the Russian built Tor M-1 and legacy air defense systems such as US made I-Hawk MIM-23, or Russian built SAM-6 and S-200 systems.
Almost all of these air defense systems are designed to deal with low to medium altitude targets, save for the legacy S-200 of which Iran has a handful. It must be noted that some of Syria’s Sa-17 air defense systems have found their way to Iran through Lebanon’s terrorist group Hezbollah which upon arrival, were given a new paint scheme and an Arabic name ‘Raad.’ Some analysts have rightly speculated that Iran has been the actual financier of these expensive purchases by the Syrians in the first place.
Iran’s plans to obtain the sophisticated S-300 missile system stems from the regime’s desire to protect its nuclear facilities from a possible US or Israeli air strike. The original deal was suspended by the Russian government out of respect for the United Nations’ embargoes on the Iranians.