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

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

This F-22 model is available from AirModels. Click here to buy yours.
About David Cenciotti 4467 Articles
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


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

  2. 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.

  3. 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?


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

  5. 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.

Comments are closed.