CNN just revealed an Iranian aircraft flew near a US Navy helicopter over the Persian Gulf in March. Officials believe incidents like this could lead to larger clashes.
“We think this might have been locally ordered,” one official told CNN.
This same official said “Iranian forces have conducted exercises and operations in the region in a professional manner.” But anything that steers from normal can raise tensions since America and Iran are currently discussing nuclear weapons. From CNN:
The Navy MH-60R armed helicopter was flying from the deck of the USS Carl Vinson on a routine patrol in international airspace, the official said.
An unarmed Iranian observation Y-12 aircraft approached. The Iranian aircraft made two passes at the helicopter, coming within 50 yards, before the helicopter moved off, according to the official.
The official said the helicopter deliberately broke off and flew away in a ‘predictable’ manner so the Iranians could not misinterpret any U.S. intentions.
The Navy helicopter was in radio contact with the ship during the encounter, but there was no contact between the two aircraft and no shots were fired.
The Navy did not release any photos of the incident. The US witnesses said they have seen Iran equipment “over the Gulf several times a month.” However, no one reported seeing the aircraft again for at least two weeks. An official said this caused the administration to believe “the incident may have been ordered by a local commander who was then reprimanded by higher-ups.”
The incident somewhat mirrors a confrontation from the Cold War. Soviet Duty Officer Stanislav Petrov is known as the man who saved the world by doing absolutely nothing. On September 26, 1983, Russian radars “detected an incoming missile strike from the United States.” According to the rules, Russia should have responded with a nuclear attack. But Petrov believed it was a malfunction and decided not to report the incident to his superiors even though everything checked out.
“I just couldn’t believe that just like that, all of a sudden, someone would hurl five missiles at us,” he explained. “Five missiles wouldn’t wipe us out. The U.S. had not five, but a thousand missiles in battle readiness.”
The Russian radars did malfunction and the United States did not launch any nuclear weapons at Russia. Petrov’s choice avoided World War III.