According to the U.S. Navy Headquarters, the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) shone a laser at a U.S. Marine Corps AH-1Z Viper attack helicopter in what they describe as a “reckless and unprofessional” incident in the Arabian Gulf. The event occurred while the helicopter, belonging to the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit and deployed with the amphibious assault ship Bataan, was conducting routine operations in international airspace.
Cmdr. Rick Chernitzer, spokesperson for U.S. Navy Headquarters, stated, “IRGCN vessels shone a laser multiple times at the aircraft while in flight. Fortunately, no injuries were reported, and the aircraft was not damaged.”
Chernitzer criticized the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy for their actions, stating, “These are not the actions of a professional maritime force. This dangerous, unprofessional, and reckless behavior by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy jeopardizes U.S. and partner nation lives and needs to immediately cease.”
The AH-1Z Viper is the primary rotary-wing ground-attack aircraft used by the Marine Corps. It provides close air support, anti-armor capabilities, armed escort, armed reconnaissance, and fire support coordination under various conditions, including day, night, and adverse weather.
The aircraft is crewed by two individuals, with a pilot in the rear and a co-pilot/gunner in the front. Vipers are deployed in Marine light attack helicopter units and are part of Marine expeditionary units that support amphibious operations.
The deployment of the USS Bataan and dock landing ship Carter Hall, along with the deployment of Air Force F-35 and F-16 fighter jets, A-10 attack aircraft, and the destroyer Thomas Hudner, was initiated in response to Iran’s actions to disrupt commercial shipping in the Strait of Hormuz and its adjacent waters. This followed Iran’s attempts to seize two oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman on July 5. In both incidents, the U.S. Navy destroyer McFaul intervened, forcing the Iranian vessels to depart.
The U.S. Navy Headquarters stated that Iran has targeted or seized approximately 20 vessels since around 2021.