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

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About David Cenciotti 4453 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 four books.


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

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

  3. 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?

  4. 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.

    • 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.

      • Don’t try and take the high road to make Russia look all innocent. What about all those “toe popper” mines that your aircraft dropped all around Afghanistan along with international reports (at the time) of Soviet ACTUAL CHEMICAL WEAPONS on parts of Afghanistan? Lets hear about all the shit Soviet Union did to all the countries it sucked up after WW2 and made those countries subordinate to “Mother” Russia… there is a reason why those nations don’t want to be sucked back into a “greater” Russia. War crimes Soviet Russian soldiers tearing through eastern Europe to get to Germany during WW2. Russia steam rolling over the country of Georgia in 2008 all because of a border dispute. Does the term “gulag” mean anything to you? When the Iron Curtain was going up there weren’t many (if any) stories about people trying to get behind it…

        So no… Russia’s hands are no cleaner than the United States.

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