Pentagon: Iranian Chopper Came Within 25 Yards of USS Essex in Gulf of Oman, Circled Ship 3 Times
20:00 GMT 15.11.2021 (Updated: 12:44 GMT 13.04.2023)
The US Department of Defense claims that, on November 11, an Iranian helicopter flew some 25 yards (23 meters) from USS Essex's port (left) side and flew "as low as about 10 feet [(3 meters)] off the surface of the ocean." The chopper is said to have circled the ship three times before departing.
A potentially hazardous situation between Iran and the US was avoided in the Gulf of Oman last Thursday, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby declared in a Monday briefing.
"When you have another armed force [...] that flies like this, you definitely run the risk of some sort of escalation and a miscalculation on either side here, and that's not helpful," Kirby stated, per Stars and Stripes' Caitlin Doornbos. "This one ended peacefully but it doesn't mean it was safe and professional, it absolutely wasn't."
US forces identified the Iranian chopper, which "operated in an unsafe and unprofessional manner," as that of the Islamic Republic of Iran Navy.
"The questions really should be asked of Tehran and the Iranian Navy as to why they felt this was a prudent use of their pilots in their aircraft?" Kirby posed.
The Pentagon's acknowledgment of the event comes days after a video uploaded to social media appeared to show the cockpit view of an Iranian chopper whizzing by a US Navy aircraft carrier.
The incident occurred not long after the USS Essex and the US Marines' 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit wrapped bilateral interoperability training
with the UK Royal Navy’s HMS Queen Elizabeth
and Marine Fighter Attack Squadron
The November 8 training operation - also based in the Gulf of Oman - included displays of the F-35B Lightning II's short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) capabilities. The Marine Fighter Attack Squadron cross-decked its costly F-35Bs from the HMS Queen Elizabeth to the USS Essex.