[Photo] Iranian P-3F maritime patrol plane “buzzes” U.S. carrier’s control tower

New images show how close to the U.S. carriers operating in the Strait of Hormutz, Iranian planes fly.

We have recently published some images showing an F/A-18E Super Hornet escorting an IRIAF (Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force) P-3F flying quite close to USS Abraham Lincoln in the Persian Gulf.

Here you can find some new photographs taken from aboard the U.S. flattop as the P-3F took a close look at the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier (ok, it’s not really buzzing the tower, but it’s not that far away).


It’s unclear whether the “flyby” was conducted on the same day the Iranian plane was escorted by the Hornet; still, the new images not only prove close encounters in the region occur but they also clearly show the indiscreet Orion in the “exotic” IRIAF color scheme.

P-3F IRIAF back

Image credit: U.S. Navy via Militaryphotos.net (thanks to FdeStV and Kasra Ghanbari for the heads-up)


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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. Symbolic of peaceful state of affairs then, that it even got over the horizon, let alone close enough for snaps.

  2. I’m kinda getting a feeling that Iran is trying to make another “Iran Air Flight 655” like incident

      • In what fashion is anybody ‘poking’ anybody there?

        Encounters of this kind are nothing special at the high seas. Since the times of the Cold War, there are thousands of photos of US planes overflying foreign ships (and submarines, including Israeli examples), and foreign planes overflying US ships. Sometimes the ‘opponents’ get closer, other times not. In the case of Iran, US Navy warships have to pass Iranian territorial waters in the Straits of Hormuz when entering the Persian Gulf, because the inward line is going through Iranian territorial waters – and Iranians have all rights to inspect what’s passing by. Whenever US Navy skippers refuse to respond to IRI Navy’s radio calls for identification and statement of their intentions (which are perfectly in line with international laws and regulations for such situations), either the IRI Navy or the IRI Air Force has to pass by and have a look.

        Still, there is no reason to open fire, and even US Navy pilots have repeatedly confirmed that (especially) IRIAF P-3F crews are operating in very professional fashion (IRIAF F-4 crews less so, at least whenever they encounter one of ‘unmanned’ F/A-18s).

        And that’s all. Face it, accept it, live with it.

        • I don’t have to accept or live with anything you say. Who do you think you are, Tom? Just because you’d written a sloppy book on Iranian AF (which is discredited among Iranian AF pilots and veterans for its lies and manipulative style) does not make you a god. Now live with that, yo.

  3. I’m also getting a feeling that this is the same aircraft pictured here, the tail number is different (5-878) but… Still…

    Picture’s info: A U.S. Navy F-14 Tomcat escorts an Iranian P-3F Orion over the Indian Ocean – 1981

  4. this by becoming the crazy Iranians …. if this had happened in a war the p3-f if he had approached and has 50 km of poortaviones …. and if the Iranians seeking an excuse for war … this terrorist state not know who gets

  5. Had the chance to see this plane very close in at the Shiraz airport. Interesting to see them in action.

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