Iran threatened to shoot down two US Navy surveillance aircraft flying close to Iranian territory in the Persian Gulf this past weekend, the latest in a series of recent provocations between Iran and the US military in the region, three US defense officials with knowledge of the incident told Fox News.
On Sept. 10, a Navy P-8 Poseidon with a crew of nine and an EP-3 Eries with a crew of roughly 24, were flying a reconnaissance mission 13 miles off the coast of Iran, through the Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman, according to officials who call the boundary Iran’s “black line.”
Iran’s territorial waters—like all nations–extend 12 miles into the sea, according to international maritime law.
At some point during the flight, the Iranian military warned the two aircraft to change course or risk getting shot down.
The US military planes ignored the warning and continued flying in international airspace, although close to Iranian territory, the officials told Fox.
“We wanted to test the Iranian reaction,” one US official told Fox News when asked why the US jets were flying close to Iran.
“It’s one thing to tell someone to get off your lawn, but we weren’t on their lawn,” the official continued. “Anytime you threaten to shoot someone down, it’s not considered professional.”
The official said the Iranian behavior was characterized as “unprofessional.” Another official said the incident was not considered “unsafe” because there were no Iranian missile launchers in the area, according to the latest intelligence reports.
The latest incident between the US military and Iran is just the latest in a series of confrontations in region.
Last month, Iranian fast-boats harassed US Navy warships in the Persian Gulf on at least five occasions. One incident resulting in three warning shots being fired from a US Navy coastal patrol craft, when an Iranian vessel ignored repeated radio calls to change course. On another occasion, an Iranian boat stopped 100 yards in front of a US Navy ship forcing it to take evasive maneuvers.