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

Sep 19 2013 - 377 Comments

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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  • mu119

    The Japanese called Perry’s fleet as the Black Ships.

  • WTF

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

  • Andyj

    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.

  • Brian C. Douglas

    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?

  • Maziar


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

  • renault314

    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.

  • William Jesse Miller

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

  • William Jesse Miller

    thats interesting

  • Shelly Williams

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

  • Shelly Williams

    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?

  • Shelly Williams

    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.

    • Max Glazer

      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.

      • Uniform223

        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.

  • Max Glazer

    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.

  • rats123

    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.

  • YuKang Park

    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.”

  • J calderon

    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.

  • Pete Miller

    They should have let it get close to the drone and then shot it down.

  • Pete Miller

    Exactly. In fact, so should the Navy.

  • Pete Miller

    A ridiculous waste of time. And no foreign pilot should be allowed to fly our planes in such a manner.

    • John Jones


  • keith

    Many of us Americans agree with you.

    • Bez

      Not enough.

    • JustMe

      Such Americans really are not true patriots.

    • Edsel Ford

      Many don’t.

  • Sam

    It is our home and you are the ones that need to get out.our pilots are not scared firstly, read the bravery of f14 tomcat pilots during Iran and Iraq war. The Aces of all aces are Iranians. We hold the world record for all categories of F14 tomcat planes. If you want any true inspirational movie material read about H3 air attack. Get out of our countries. The Rearson we don’t engage with your pilots is because you have got strict orders from your Israelie and Saudi allies to send us into war. And we don’t want to give you that reason. The reason our pilots don’t shoot is cause they give a shit about the lives of Iranian people unlike you war fenatics that don’t give rat ass about our lives. Read about our 8 years Iran and Iraq war and read about Liberation of Khoramshahr. We defend our country with our bare hands if we have to. It is ours and we are not giving it to you. One thing we are not scared of is death. I live overseas and I am a professional and if war breaks out in Iran I will go back home and defend what is ours. Viva Iran the land of braves and youngs xxx

    • Skip

      So international airspace belongs to Iran?
      The only reason the F-4’s were challenged is because they were threatening our drone. The Iran/Iraq war was over 25 yrs ago and your still operating F-14A’s along with some very old Phantoms and maybe a few veteran pilots of that war! So go put your museum pieces back in thier hangars before they end up at the bottom of the Gulf! The U.S and its allies will be in that region for as long as there is a threat to the shipping lanes!
      One more thing, if Iran is so great and peaceful and you would go back if war broke out, why are you living overseas?? Your probably living in Paris, London or New York!
      Ok you have a good day! Stay out of trouble!

      • Maria Gomes

        The US is, has been, and always will be, a bully.
        Just read what the US did to Iran in 1953 and perhaps you’ll have a better understanding of the POS that is amerika.

        • Skip

          I know world history very well! The U.S used to be an isolationist country but international events (WW2) brought us out of our shell! When Anerica sat back and did nothing we were call cowards and “we didn’t care about the rest off the world”! When we do take action against genocidal, dictatorships, etc we’re called a “bully” or world police, etc. so either way the U.S is supposed to be the bad guy or the blame for other countries own internal problems and to take the heat of their own leaders.
          So tell me what noble utopian country do you come from?

          • Bez

            “When we do take action against genocidal, dictatorships” except those that America installs and/or supports.

        • Jason Wooden

          A bully!! How about a lot of leaders use the USA to be the great enemy. To inspire nationalism in these countries. They are only looking to create an external foe.
          Our leaders attempt the same thing in the USA. But at least here we have the ability to say anything we wish publicly or directly to our leaders with no threat of problems.

          I believe most countries act in the best interest of their elite class of people. Reporting by the media is usually to give a certain narrative. Bad , good, evil etc….
          Please if someone wishes attack and try to occupy America. We have more guns in the hands of our citizens. Also the world plays a narrative of ignorant American’s. We have the ability to grow in any direction we want as individuals.

          The most open loving people I have ever viewed are American’s if you come here you well be accepted and respected. But we expect you to become American. This country is made up of so many different ethnic and religious backgrounds.

          I would be willing to tell you if you need food we will feed you need a blanket we will cover you need protection we will protect you. We judge each on thier own character.

          But if you push us we will kick ass. Most of the time we act from a moral position. We will be dammed if we do dammed if we don’t.

          • Bez

            “Please if someone wishes attack and try to occupy America.” The exact opposite has been happening for many years.

      • Bez

        Does the Persian Gulf belong to America? America has been threatening Iran not just with that drone but, has been doing so for many years.

        • James

          America has not truly threatened Iran. If America wished it Iran would be gone in the blink of an eye. If anything America is a little angry about the American soldiers that Iran has helped kill in Iraq.

          • Bez

            America should be more angry with its corrupt, war criminal politicians who sent its soldiers to die in an unnecessary war of aggression in Iraq.

            • Ernesto

              Most are. Why do you think Sanders and Trump got so much support?

    • ZL

      Um Iran is flying the AMERICAN F14… lol

    • Ephraim Goldenberg

      No one wants your land

    • Rifneno

      That’s a lot of self-righteousness over thievery. “Bandit” has never been as apt a brevity code as it is with Iranian F-14’s that were STOLEN from King Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi during a coup. Those jets aren’t yours. You’re just petty thieves. And you want to get self-righteous? Sickening.

      Exactly which records do you refer to? Most tomcats lost to blue-on-blue from a pathetic phantom? Well you got me there, you guys sure hold that one. Most Tomcats rotting in a scrapyard because the engineering geniuses that made them won’t sell maintenance equipment to thieves? Well you got us on that, too. Oh, wait! How about most tomcats stolen by brigands who aren’t smart enough to design their own planes? Boy, Iran is the only one in that category for sure!

      It’s a good thing they’re “not afraid to die”, because if they try to challenge an F-22 Raptor, that is what will happen. They will die. That isn’t a fight, it’s an execution.

      Don’t flatter yourself by claiming the air battles of the Iran-Iraq war were some sort of skill. You were getting slaughtered by Iraq until you started using the fruits of your theft in active combat instead of as jerryrigged ACAWS. Iraq was dominating you, that’s WHY your banditlords started risking those F-14s by sending them into active combat. The end result, well, that’s just what happens when American and Soviet fighters of equal era engage. Google “Operation Mole Cricket 19” for more information on that. Turns out that spending insane amounts on defense will earn you the best toys. Is it those toys, which again were the products of pure theft, that won the day. Congratulations, you stole a gun and shot a guy with a knife. We’re so proud of you!

      We don’t want your damn land. Steal yourself some dignity and drop the self-righteous drivel.

      P.S. You don’t own international waters. I understand that, as a nation of thieves, the concept of ownership is a little hard. But it’s not yours. It’s not anyones.