[Photo] Iranian plane flies close to US aircraft carrier. F-18 Hornet intercepts it.

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.

Every now and then even Iranian speedboats and maybe subs pay visit to the U.S. nuclear-powered carriers.

F_A-18 1

Image credit: Iranian Navy/Aerospacetalk.ir  via Militaryphotos.net

H/T to Bjorn Broten for the heads-up


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About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a 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. Hey Wingnut, nice picture. Glad somebody is still putting the Iranian’s in their place. Craig W. is my little cousin. He showed me the video you guys put together. Loved that too. Keep up the good work!

  2. I think the US navy can intercept these planes for so much further distance but to prevent any probable conflict they let Iranian planes get closer than usual but that’s not a good solution I guess

  3. Hello everybody, I guess that everyone knows that US Navy got the best Fighters and also the best training round the world. No doubt. I am Iranian but in a range of age that remembers the friendship between USA and Iran, when we had American neighbors beside our home, when we were going to school together, playing as kids together, and we lost us when it got finished. To let you know clearly, the most lovable country in the world for we, the Iranians, has been and also is the USA. The problem is that a kid comes and says things that bothers Americans, and makes people think that may be all Iranians are this way. I really miss those golden years of friendship and I am sure at least 90% of Iranians feel so. If you google the name Jalil Zandi, even in Wikipedia you can simply find out the best F 14 pilot ever (as F 14 has been dismissed from US Naval and Air force). This Jet Ace was flying an American made fighter, and had educated in USA. But see now a days, we see that the people are fighting in net for nothing! An old American made airplane that belongs to that old good golden days of friendship flew close to a US carrier, and some people abuse that situation to spread hater! Unfortunately the media has done the way that Americans think that Iranians are their enemies, but you can simply find Americans that has come to Iran in last 20 years around you. I am sure when you find them and ask them, your opinion will be changed. Iranians are not the enemy of Americans, nor for US government. Best wishes, bye.

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