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 4451 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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.”

  4. 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.

Comments are closed.