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Iran's patrol aircraft comes close to US aircraft carrier

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The USS Eisenhower aircraft carrier. A US Navy photo

MANAMA (AFP): An Iranian navy patrol plane buzzed a US aircraft carrier in international waters of the Gulf of Oman last week but nothing came of the incident, a senior US military officer has said.

On April 21, the eve of war games conducted by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards in the Gulf and the strategic Strait of Hormuz, the aircraft came as close as 915 metres to the USS Eisenhower, the official said.

“An Iranian Navy F27 maritime patrol aircraft, flying in international airspace, flew near USS Eisenhower ...shortly after the aircraft carrier had finished routine replenishment at sea operations in the Gulf of Oman,” he told AFP Friday, requesting anonymity.

He said the aircraft stayed at that distance for about 20 minutes, but pointed out that “all interaction with the aircraft was routine and correct.”

US Navy ships operating in the Gulf region “routinely have Iranian maritime patrol aircraft fly by their positions – almost on a daily basis,” he added.

But he said aircraft carriers do not normally interact with Iranian aircraft because they operate in the northern Arabian Sea, in support of operations in Afghanistan, which is not reached by Iranian patrol flights.

“Iranian forces are aware of our presence in the region just as we are aware of theirs. Our interaction with the regular Iranian Navy and Air Force continues to be within standards of maritime practise,” he said.

The Eisenhower was deployed to the Middle East in January. The US Navy's Fifth Fleet is based in Bahrain.

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