Iran F-4 confronts another U.S. Predator over Arabian Gulf

An Iranian fighter jet again played chicken Tuesday with a U.S. drone flying over international waters in the Arabian Gulf near Iran.

This time an Iranian F-4 flew within 16 miles of an unarmed MQ-1 Predator before two U.S. military aircraft escorted the Predator and the F-4 darted away. The Pentagon did not say what type of aircraft escorted the Predator.

In November, an Iranian fighter jet fired up on an unarmed Predator, but missed. On Tuesday, there is no report that the F-4 fired upon the Predator.

The initial report from the Pentagon stated that one of the U.S. aircraft fired a warning flare before the F-4 ended its pursuit. However, Pentagon officials later said a flare was not fired. Below is the read out the Pentagon issued to announce the confrontation:

On March 12, an unarmed, unmanned, MQ-1 U.S. military aircraft conducting a routine classified surveillance flight over international waters in the Arabian Gulf was approached by an Iranian F-4 aircraft. The closest point of approach between these aircraft was approximately 16 miles.

The MQ-1 was escorted by two U.S. military aircraft. All U.S. aircraft remained over international waters at all times.

Following the incident last November where an Iranian fighter aircraft fired upon an unarmed, unmanned MQ-1, the United States communicated to the Iranians that we will continue to conduct surveillance flights over international waters consistent with long-standing practice and our commitment to the security of the region. We also communicated that we reserve the right to protect our military assets as well as our forces and will continue to do so going forward.

About the Author

Michael Hoffman
Michael Hoffman is the executive editor at Tandem NSI and a contributor to He can be reached at
  • Duke

    F-22s I believe. The F4 pilots must’ve crapped their pants.

  • Jeff M

    Iran is looking more and more like Iraq circa 1990.

  • DGR

    Somedays I think my job is getting more and more difficult, but then I am reminded that some poor smuck over in Iran has to find parts for the F-4 and F-14s. Talk about the worlds most difficult job, id love to see how many systems on these birds still work.

  • Mark Pyruz

    First of all, the previous incident involved an attack jet (Su-25), not a fighter jet. Second, the IRIAF employs U.S. trained fighter tactics. It isn’t likely they’d send a single F-4 as an interceptor.

    My guess is the Iranian Phantom was either an RF-4E involved in a similar mission as MQ-1, or it was an F-4E “Bushehr Sharks” on a training mission.

    Really the “news” in this encounter is that MQ-1 missions in the Persian Gulf are now employing fighter escorts.

  • Xhummerusn

    Wait. if every drone flight required two escort aircraft, meaning two or more human onboard, how has this helped take lives out of danger by using drones. Now we have three aircraft (and probably more, including an AWACS) on a mission that could maybe could have been conducted by one aircraft with sensors?

  • Lance

    No match a F-4 could easily shoot down a drone no questions asked. The pilot didn’t have the clearance to raddled the sabre against us this time.

    • Benjamin

      Not as sure that it is as easy as you think it is to shoot down a drone with an F-4. The F-4’s radar is no where as nearly as capable as an F-15’s (non-AESA) let alone one equipped with an AESA.
      Also Iran’s AAM’s are far older and of a more limited design. The F-4’s slowest speed is also a lot faster then a drone’s. THis will make forcing an overshoot a lot easier. I really think it would be a lot easier to shoot a drone down with an Su-25, rather then an F-4.

  • Jaysun121

    First off the fighters were probably flying CAP nearby, second the MQ-1 can stay on mission for 3x the time of a human opperator.

  • sandy

    Maybe the drone is bait… hoping Iran will start something.

  • Lance

    It was an unarmed MQ-1 meaning it has no weapons to defend itself so it’s going to have an escort…

    • Ryan

      I think his point was, what the hell is the purpose of using a drone if you have manned aircraft with it. Does it really have a better sensor suite than the F-18s or whatever was with it?

  • dubweiser101

    Yea the unarmed drone might have been shitting its pants, but not as much as the Iranian F-4 pilot was when he saw armed USN or USAF fighters which explains why he turned tail and ran for Persia…

  • Pogmusic

    Yes, F-22s are there. My son is a crew chief on one.

  • Marcellus Hambrick

    They were F-18 C’s.

  • AAK

    The Iranian propaganda dept is laughable, but there’s some serious talent in the Air Force to keep those F4s flying after all these years.

  • Lamel80

    I think if it were F-18’s, the media might have reported it. F-22’s do have a rotation in the region. Iran has already expressed their resentment toward the F22 being so close. This can be Google but I know this to be true… While it is possible for F-18 and usually more likely being over water, I think the pentagon would have said so up front. My guess, F-22.

  • Marcellus Hambrick

    They were F-18C’s.

  • T Guest

    ……and soon will we engage F-16’s recently transferred?

  • STemplar

    FYI to all those getting their skirts in an uproar about the author using the name Arabian Gulf in place of Persian. I’d be willing to bet its partly to poke you all with a stick to force a response. It’s probably part to demonstrate what an infantile mentality you are and to illicit exactly the kind of responses you are all posting. To sort of once again demonstrate for you tools who precisely is “dumbest and easily manipulated”

  • naeim

    the only reason why the author is using ARAB GULF is because the author rides the zionist train all the way…

    • blight_

      The Zionist train isn’t necessarily anti-Iranian or pro-Arab.

      Israel gave Iran hawk missiles as part of Iran contra. Iran did not participate in the 1949 war.

      Anti-Semitism is part and parcel of the Abrahamaic faiths, and Iran is not an exception.

    • Papi1960R

      Zionist Train? A train made by Israeli Jews would be a exceptional machine. Excellent design, engineering, quality of workmanship. They could export it all around the world except Islamic countries, as the conditin of the rail systems have deterioated since their colonial masters left.

      • blight_

        But they are proud of the Iranian train, based on trains imported during the days of the Shah, reverse-engineered and improved from the 1980’s standard. God is Great!

        I suppose its better than the Saudi trains simply bought from the US and which cannot be made locally. Though maybe Turkish trains are as good as the Zionist train you speak of.

  • naeim


    • Restore Palestine

      An unusually high percentage of US politicians, Wall Street CEOs / BODs, influential lawyers, state/federal judges are Jews.

      • blight_

        Depending on how accurate wikipedia is…

        (Off-topic: As it turns out, we could probably use a combination of mtDNA and y-chromosome haplotype markers to determine if people had an origin in the Holy Land. It would be difficult to tell a Palestinian from a Jew using this, but it would work in cases like determining an Ashekenazi from local populations. Sadly, I hope racists never learn how to do genetic sequencing, or enter a position of power to use molecular biology to do evil things).

        11 Jewish Senators. ~1% of the population.

        22 representatives from 435. 43=10%, 4=1%. Yeah, also highly represented.

        Three Jews on the supreme court.

        I don’t feel like checking state, federal and appeals court just yet.

        As a racial minority myself, I’m waiting for my group to appear more prominently. Chu’s appointment to SecEnergy is probably the highest we will go…for now.

      • STemplar

        Probably because outside of Israel the US has the highest number of jews. Mostly because they fled mad men and monsters to the only place they’re really safe.

        • shawn1999

          You say that likes its a bad thing. I don’t think it is. Jews help found America. Also, to state that American believe all the crap they are fed by media outlets and politicians is to prove yourself uneducated. American s know politicians (and lawyers for that matter. And Muslims too….) are full of crap (why else would we have the highest number of anti-politician and anti-lawyer jokes?). The key though is, we KNOW this to be true. You are so busy with your two lips up the Ayatollah’s anus you can’t tell what color the sky really is. We KNOW thy are full of crap- but that within 4 years, we have a chance to change the crap that’s stinking the place up. Hell, we’ve known this since before we were a country! But the catch is, we also know its the BEST available at this time, and we are ALWAYS working to make it better, rather than letter some greedy “religious” piece of crap do all the dictating, who is more than happy letting all your fools die in his name while he hides in the back (talk about cowards).

          Question: If suicide bombers are so courageous, and Americans are too cowardly to set the bomb and blow themselves up but even still are brave enough to fight for their own ideals, then what do you call the Ayatollahs who neither fight nor blow themselves up? What word do you have for these? Crap? Why you listening to and following crap? What’s that make you?

  • hirbod

    i don’t know anywhere named arabian gulf….is it near iran? but one problem…why isn’t on the map?

    • jamgeadon

      The Arabian gulf isn’t on the map because it is part of the Arabian sea which is on the map.

      • Dov

        In other words, there is no “Arabian Gulf”. It’s a made up name.

  • Kim

    The ‘Arabian’ Gulf? Schurely must’ve been schome mischtake….

  • tiger

    Kinda nice to see the Phantom still smoking the skies. One of the great designs of all time.

    • Once held the “publicly known” speed record – a beautiful bird with great lines. But, I would trade her in on a F-22 in a heartbeat.

  • sandy

    call it the gulf of useless Iranians for all I care

    • Restore Palestine

      Why the crass hostility toward the Iranians? What have they done to you?


        Nuclear Program.

        • Restore Palestine

          Iran has every right to develop its nuclear program.

  • STemplar

    Beyond this name of the gulf silliness I hope these drone flights are gathering appropriate data for the ‘all options on the table’ option.

    I was interested in the recent interview with Obama where he sort of put a time frame on the Iranian nuke program by saying they were about a year off from one, even if he did leave himself some wiggle room by qualifying that with a comment about whether they have made the decision to proceed and build one. It was still interesting in that he used a specific time frame.

    Of course that kind of just bounced off the main stream media bobble heads that they are and there was no real follow up discussion. Given that time frame and the recent issues with the Norks I think the time of not doing anything has passed for the Obama administration. Their plate is going to be very full over the next year I would imagine.

  • Greg

    Back in the day I remember reading reports from Navy Tomcat instructor pilots training Iranian pilots at Miramar after Iran bought a bunch of them. They said the Iranian pilots were very professional and picked up flying the Tomcat as quickly as their American counterparts. I never read anything negative about the Iranian pilots while they were at Miramar NAS.

  • favr burrows

    shoot down one then let them how easly we can do so without any problems

  • horndan

    well you don’t see the big picture, if you can take and Vietnam era air craft and get that close, it just the beging to the end of the Drones

  • Daniel Thaler

    If an Iranian jet fighter fired upon an unarmed or armed US jet fighter, um, isn’t that VERY SERIOUS? They juts happened to miss. Suppose they hit the plane, killed the pilot, etc., etc. Then what? It’s OK because they missed? I smell a rat.

  • Kahuna06

    Iranian F-4s, and we want to GIVE F-16s to Egypt. How come we have become so stupid. If your are going to give the arabs something, give them P51s, or maybe some P47s, but certainly nor one of our top of the line fighters. Next Obama will want to give them a few F22s or a F35 or two so they stay our FRIENDS.


    My only question is: Where are the Iranians getting the parts to keep the Phantoms flying?

  • juver

    Scenario: A Cuban spy drone flies along the U.S. Gulf Coast. An old Air National Guard fighter flies in no more than to 18 miles.

    Cuban fighters intercept it and force it to turn back.

    Question: Would you think this was OK? Would you think the Americans are the baddies here, or would you think the Cubans are?

    • S O

      I happen to have an idea where you quoted this from. :)

    • Benjamin

      I do believe that Soviet Tu-95 Bear’s did this throughout the Cold War with out any major incidents.

  • Infidel4LIFE

    I think it would be comical and embarrassing for a drone to shoot down an Iranian f-4 or watever junk they have. The gun camera footage would be proof, so arm those drones with some air to air missles and record the 1st kill by a drone. That would be a first no doubt.

  • STemplar

    Neener neener, guess central command didn’t get the Persian Gulf cry baby memo.

    “Our mission here hasn’t changed, and it’s been a steady mission for over 60 years — to contribute to the maritime security and stability of the region. I’m a firm believer that the overall stability of the region is greatly impacted by the level of stability and security of the maritime environment, that it really starts there. So, if the sea lanes of communication are safe, if ships are able to transit in and out of the Arabian Gulf through the Gulf of Oman through the Strait of Bab-el-Mandeb through the Suez Canal or out to the Indian Ocean, then we are doing our job.”

    Vice Adm. John Miller, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command

  • Benjamin

    “Confidently attack” ?? Seems like they ran away when confronted by something that could defend itself and the drone.

  • frank

    If Iran was given advanced weapons by the US and Germany like Israel they would be every bit as good.


    Oh my gosh. Why would you even pursue an enemy from above? The only time someone would do that would be if they were strafing planes or convoys. Thats it. You don’t bomb fighters, you fire missiles and sometimes guns at them. And once again, if you have an ignorant person following above, pulling a Cobra might not be beneficial. You have to be able to not hit the enemy. You would have to keep your opponent in sight while your plane turn from a straight line to vertical. You would be under significant G stress. No advantage.

  • oblatt

    >Our mission here hasn’t changed, and it’s been a steady mission for over 60 years — to contribute to the maritime security and stability of the region.

    Yep same mission as ever – prop up the corrupt unrepresentative gulf regimes.

    The key to Iran’s acceptance by the US is a nuclear weapon. As soon as that happens Iran will suddenly be our partner and great friend and essential for the stability of the gulf.

    In the last ten years Iran has had one of the greatest increases is living standards in the world according to the economist. Once sanctions are dropped we should see an Iranian renascence.

  • Steamer

    Great…sending manned fighters to protect unmanned aircraft. Kind of defeats the purpose of using unmanned assets.

  • swift

    Were exactly is this “Arabian Gulf”? Is it located near the Donghae Sea? Does it contain the Island of Island of Diaoyu? Should authors stick with internationally recognized names for global places?

    This is about as ignorant as when folks try to pretend that Israel doesn’t exist by calling it the West Palestinian territories. Israel does in fact exist and this dispute took place in the Persian Gulf

    • Benjamin

      According to National Geographic, Arabian Gulf is a valid alternate name for the Persian Gulf.

  • xjarhead

    Whatever gulf they are flying over, kudos to the pilots and maintenance crews of those phantoms.

  • Garry Owen

    How does Iran continue to get parts for their F-4’s?


    gee iran has planes that can fly hhmmm

    • Restore Palestine

      Are you sorry that the F-22 and F-35 aren’t even flying after your government has dumped hundreds of billions into the two expensive pieces of junks.

      • Benjamin

        Both the F-22 and F-35 are flying in numbers greater then what Iran is currently capable of flying

        • Restore Palestine

          You mean the F-22 and F-35 are crashing in numbers greater than what Iran is capable of crashing. HaHa.

      • blight_

        They’re flying, they’re just not perfect yet and it’s costing a frustrating amount of money.

        Regarding the -C: “Fly yes, land [on a carrier using tailhook]: no!”


          Ah, Indiana Jones quote. Can’t go wrong with Indy.

  • Deepinnaheartatexas

    It might have been referred to as the “Arabian Gulf” in the same manner that GHW Bush used to call the Iraqi president “Saddam” (rhymes with “Adam”) instead of “Sah-dahm”. Just a little tweak of the tail, perhaps?

  • Willy

    I wonder what air medal the drone pilot will get. Flying in hostile area that is some scary stuff!

  • Adam Majkowski

    Doing everything possible to provoke war with Iran. People need to stop enlisting to stop the war. No troops, no war. Peace.

  • xarkey

    There is an old proverb written sometime after 1400ad which (paraphrased) says “Where goes the Quran, progress stops”

  • kammeres

    Look at any world atlas. The body of water west of the Straits of Hormuz is the Persian Gulf. East of the Straits of Hormuz, it’s known as the Gulf of Oman. That opens into the Arabian Sea, which is northern extension of the Indian Ocean. No problem, eh?

  • Tom

    Was that Monkey flying the Jet?


    Honestly, with all this debate about the name of the Gulf, why don’t we call it “The Gulf that is surrounded by Oil rich emirates who can’t keep their people from fighting each other and therefore show corruption”? How about calling it “The US carrier Gulf” as it seems that carriers show up there every other day to make peace. For gods sake, lets just get it over with.

  • palestine = fantasy

    i remember some dirty muslim said ; “The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct Palestinian people to oppose Zionism.

    For tactical reasons, Jordan, which is a sovereign state with defined borders, cannot raise claims to Haifa and Jaffa, while as a Palestinian, I can undoubtedly demand Haifa, Jaffa, Beer-Sheva and Jerusalem. However, the moment we reclaim our right to all of Palestine, we will not wait even a minute to unite Palestine and Jordan.”

    And of course, there was “Chairman” Arafat who in a 1974 interview with The New Republic stated: “What you call Jordan is actually Palestine.”

  • palestine fantasy

    “The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct ‘Palestinian people’ to oppose Zionism for tactical reasons, Jordan, which is a sovereign state with defined borders, cannot raise claims to Haifa and Jaffa. While as a Palestinian, I can undoubtedly demand Haifa, Jaffa, Beer-Sheva and Jerusalem. However, the moment we reclaim our right to all of Palestine, we will not wait even a minute to unite Palestine and Jordan.”

  • chris christiansen

    why not load up a predator with c4 or any explosive, let them capture it and when they show it off as a captured american drone, we press the button and show them the recieving end of an airborne IED. Ironic huh? they will think twice about screwing with us.


      But we lose a predator. To explosives. For no reason. And there is no guarantee it will work. Plus, they probably know all about IEDS and will recognize the plane as a Trojan Horse. I say greet them with a bomb, nothing fancy, just a bomb.

      • rabbitman

        but you can’t just bomb them for no liable reason unless they have actively committed an act of war against the US (check the rules of war Geneva convention)

    • rabbitman

      nice one dude but how would they load the drone with c4 because all that space is used up with the flight equipment and recorders……


    *IQ not IG. Typo!

  • RJLipscomb

    The Arabs like to call it the “Arabian Gulf”. We call it the “Persian Gulf”. Same thing. Note, to the East is Persia and the West is Arabia.

    The fighter aircraft were on “alert” in case hostile Iranian aircraft made any attempt to intercept. My guess is they were F-18C’s, but could have been F-22’s. F-18’s would not need signal their presence. F-22’s would (stealth).

    Iran was probably just letting us know they are willing & capable of defending their airspace.

  • irani

    persian golf, persian

  • mohammad




  • jamgeadon

    Probably an F18C or a F14C.
    maybe or maybe not because the US could have carrier ops in those waters which are international because that drone had to come from somewhere and there aren’t many US or NATO armed forces bases in the region

  • jamgeadon

    I think that drone could have been spying on the Iranians due to the Iranian Nuclear weapons programme

    • Dov

      Alleged, “Iranian Nuclear weapons programme”. Just repeating an allegation does not make it true.

  • alfred

    persian gulf NOT arabian gulf
    Repeat your History course

  • Jack Daniel

    A Hoffman writing an article about Iran… must be all true lol lol lol