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.
At night, when the horizon is not clearly visible and pilots have almost no visual reference until they are on short final. In bad weather, especially when there are low clouds, thunderstorms, fog, etc. Or during a snow storm, when the flightdeck is covered and made slippery by snow.
The photograph in this post is one of the few you can find online showing an aircraft landing on a snow-covered flattop’s deck.
It was taken on Jan. 21, 1987, and it depicts an A-6E Intruder of Attack Squadron (VA) 52 on final approach for recovery on the snow-covered flight deck of USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) operating in the Bering Sea.
Actually, the image above, released by the U.S. DoD does not show the VFA-37 Hornet landing on the French carrier, since no hook can be seen; the photo was probably shot as the aircraft performed a touch and go on the flattop before attempting an actual arrested landing.
Image credit:DoD photo by Chief Petty Officer Bruno Gaudry, French Navy