published : 2023-09-28

Iran Navy Harasses US Helicopter in International Airspace over Arabian Gulf

US Navy Condemns 'Unsafe, Unprofessional, and Irresponsible Behavior by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy'

An Iranian Navy ship shining a laser at a US AH-1Z Viper attack helicopter in the Arabian Gulf.

An Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy ship repeatedly shined a laser at a U.S. AH-1Z Viper attack Marine helicopter that was flying in international airspace over the Arabian Gulf.

The helicopter was conducting routine operations, according to U.S. Naval Forces Central Command spokesperson Commander Rick Chernitzer.

"This unsafe, unprofessional, and irresponsible behavior by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy risks U.S. and partner nation lives and needs to cease immediately," Chernitzer said in a statement.

There were no damages or injuries reported.

The interaction took place at approximately 7:30 p.m. local time. The aircraft is attached to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 162 (Reinforced), deployed aboard the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5), on a scheduled deployment to the Middle East Region.

US Naval Forces Central Command spokesperson Commander Rick Chernitzer addressing the media regarding the Iranian Navy incident.

"These are not the actions of a professional maritime force," Chernitzer said.

"U.S. naval forces remain vigilant and will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows while promoting regional maritime security."

The development comes a day after Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard claimed Wednesday it successfully launched an imaging satellite into space, a move that could further ratchet up tensions with Western nations that fear its space technology could be used to develop nuclear weapons.

Tensions are already high with Western nations over Iran's nuclear program, which has steadily advanced over the years.

Last week, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said relations with the U.S. can move forward if the Biden administration demonstrates it wants to return to the 2015 nuclear deal, and a first step should be easing sanctions.

Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 162 (Reinforced) conducting routine operations aboard the USS Bataan (LHD 5) in the Middle East Region.

Iran has always denied seeking nuclear weapons, and says its space program, like its nuclear activities, is for purely civilian purposes.

U.S. intelligence agencies and the International Atomic Energy Agency say Iran abandoned an organized military nuclear program in 2003.

Since then, however, Iran has continued to enrich uranium to a degree approaching weapons-grade levels.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.