Iranian F-14 Tomcat’s “new” indigenous air-to-air missile is actually an (improved?) AIM-54 Phoenix replica

Sep 26 2013 - 31 Comments

Among the hardware on display during the annual military parade in Tehran, on Sunday Sept. 22, 2013, Iran not only displayed a new indigenous passive phased array radar system for detecting stealth targets and cruise missiles, but it also showed the country’s latest home-made missile productions, including the Fakour-90.

The Fakour-90 missile is one of the latest “state-of-the-art productions” of the Iranian Armed Forces which can be mounted on F-14 fighter jets.

It’s almost identical to the AIM-54 Phoenix and, more than a brand new missile, is just a domestically upgraded, partially reverse engineered version of the famous long range missile carried by the U.S. Navy Tomcat.

The AIM-54 was developed in the mid-sixties and the IRIAF has operated some of them. Even if we can’t talk of a “new missile”, we can’t but notice that the Iranians managed to keep them in service and, maybe, upgrade them a little bit. What’s even more surprising is that Tehran managed to keep the F-14s airworthy, considered the sanctions on Iran and the consequent lack of spare parts for the Tomcats.

The different component is hidden inside the missile’s nose cone and is (probably) a semi-active homing system of the Shalamcheh surface-to-air missile – once again a reverse engineered, improved version of the U.S. MIM-23 Hawk SAM.

Image credit: FNA, PressTV


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  • JS

    Improved Phoenix? The bar was already pretty low. The Phoenix was 0/2 all-time in actual combat with the U.S. Navy (, although reportedly the numbers were better for the Iranians in the Iran-Iraq War. Again, it looks like the Iranians are trying to make the best of what they have, which is antiquated stuff that the West retired years ago. Something tells me the U.S. military is about as impressed with Iran’s “state of the art” as McKayla Maroney.

    • mor

      US doesnt have AWACS threat, Iran have

      • OG_Locc


        • displacedjim

          Mor is saying the Iranians need a missile with the capabilties of the AIM-54 because they want to engage HVAAs like our AEW&C, tanker, and ISR aircraft. Of course, wanting and having are two different things.

    • Victorinox

      The Phoenix was fleet defense anti-bomber missile. It was designed and built to shot down slow moving Soviet bombers that carried long range antiship missiles, as well as Soviet strategic bombers that carried nuclear weapons. That’s why it was almost never used. The three times the AIM-54 was fired in anger by the US Navy were against fast moving maneuverable fighters, and the missiles were fired at the edge of their range. Furthermore, in all those instances the targets turned around and ran away. It is not surprising that the missiles missed. It was simply not designed to engage that type of target.

    • kell490

      The Phoenix missile was for it’s time 1974 a good long range missile.

  • Pooter Bilbo

    There’s a big difference between keeping some F-14’s airworthy, and being able to turn sorties.

    • Daniel Kunkle

      That’s always been my question regarding these images of these very old and maintenance intensive F-14 in the Iranian AF. Sure, some of them can clearly still fly but can they fight?

      • EveryManBill

        How hard can it be? Lock, shoot missile, go back home.

  • OG_Locc

    I love these Iranian “new and improved” missiles. The missiles are the best propaganda for them, because all you have to do is make it *look* like a missile on the outside. Nobody can see that it’s got a hamster wheel inside.

    For a relevant look at Iran’s OEM defense manufacturing capability, look at the Qaher 313, the Shahed 285, or the stealth flying boat.

    • Lol

    • wmac

      How classy of you. I can tell there might be a hamster wheel inside head.

      You don’t have anything technical to add and just throw B>S.

      • Reaper

        The truth sting you a bit, doesn’t it?

    • Бабак

      So cool comment!

    • the shahed 285 is an interestingconcept but for the capabilities, they might be better off going with something like an armed little bird especially since both only have unguided guns and rocket pods. I don’t think that this helicopter is a super cobra or apache type of attack gunship

  • No…. It is a Phoenix shell filled with MIM-23 Hawk components

    • William Magoffin

      In the Iran Iraq war the IRIAF took to mounting Hawk missiles on their F-14s.

      • That was due to their inoperable AIM-7s and lack of a medium range missile that could work with AWG-9. Their Phoenix was fine working with the AWG9

  • ask2wice

    I can almost guarantee you that this missile, and all of the other Iranian “wonder weapons”, do not work. They serve two purposes only. The first is for public (Iranian) consumption for obvious reasons, and the second is to force Israel, NATO and the U.S. to at least have to look at dealing with these “weapons” just in case they go to war. Though they all are most likely worthless non-workable mock-ups, at the very least the “threat” has to be analyzed and accommodated for in war planning just in case they are real. That said …

    Iran would be better served going to the negotiating table rather than to war, which is where they are headed if they develop a deployed nuclear capability. They would not last a week against allied and Israeli air bombardment. And if they get their nuke, well then, they might as well start planning for their own funerals.

    Given that Islam has been murdering each other non-stop for hundreds of years, the Sunni nations led by Saudi Arabia will match Shia Iran’s nuclear capabilities as quickly as they can. And when that happens, some day – some how, the genie will be let out of her bottle. The nuclear Genie that is. And on that day Islam will cease to exist. At least in the Middle East. I say God help them. And I truly mean that.

    They are well on their way towards self-destruction if they continue down this nuclear weapons path. Assad and Saddam’s use of chemical weapons shows that there is no compunction against using WMDs in that unstable (some might say crazed) region. Their world will come to an end. I just hope that they don’t take Europe and Israel with them!

    • Roland Lawrence

      Gulf states trading in Euros for oil was worth 25% of the value of the currency. Normally oil deals are all settled in dollars. With “Quantitative Easing” you actually get less dollars back then started so the only people to loose out were the Americans not the Europeans.

      As for nuclear proliferation I think Noam Choomsky said it best about the cold war “we had dialogue just fine with the Russians even though they had 1000s of nuclear weapons pointed at us (America) & the ability to deliver them from 1000s of miles away. If other countries get them its not the “world ending” scenario that many fear. It is believed that Saudi has them – from Pakistan. Though not on their own soil but would be called upon in a situation. Iran does not have any but if they did they certainly dont have the ability to shoot at anyone far away. They would be far better trying to buy a broken arrow on the black market.

  • aniptofar

    It’s all academic. Their air force would be reduced in days or weeks to nothing in a war but they will get a nuke before this limp wristed administration does anything. Nothing like going into a negotiation knowing your negotiator will buckle within 5 minutes.

  • marc aussure

    They haven’t at all i’m afraid.
    1. conventional warfare is indeed not the answer but through economic, diplomatic and covert actions Iran is bleeding dry.
    2. Iran is widely considered as an ‘angry teenager’. It lacks military capacity, sure it makes up for it in numbers but itself knows the latter explaining why it oscillates between belligerence and conciliation it doesn’t want to anger the West too much like NK did

    I greatly respect the Persian nation but its leadership is deluded, desperate and pathetically attempts to keep a strong face in spite of the fact it lacks even basic necessities such as fuel for its fighters.

    If a war was actually to unfold pre emptive strikes would cripple key assets such as runways and roads. Yet nothing has happened by fear of another Irak and/or fissible material ending up in the hand of transnational extremists group.

  • tarvaz

    Iran defense industry uses the Hawk missile as the basic starting point for a lot of their air defense projects as both SAM’s or to ATA missiles like Sejill and now this.If it is a combination of AIM-54 and the MIM-Hawk then it is a pretty good platform
    It really depends on the ECM and how it will fare against the latest USAF or the IDF ECCM.Iran has had more them enough time to pick apart the Phoenix for research and development to not only build the key components, but to upgrade it as well.
    Remember, the Shah had built an huge infrastructure in Tehran for the maintenance and a complex in shahin shahr Isfahan for the assembly lines for both Helicopters to be built in iran and future air to air and SAM missiles.It was close to 20 billion dollar project at the time. That is still the backbone of Iran’s research and development and reverse engineering projects.

  • syrus
  • happy crow

    iran has made a bvrm it has also made a modified copy of F5 it has access to rd33 engine of mig 29 and some sources say Iran has used them in its version of F5
    there you go superb aerodynamics of F5, powerful engines of mig29 and bvrm missiles of F14.
    If Iranian mix the three they have a reliable mach 2 plus air superiority jet.
    mock all you want , combination of these three will challenge any 4th generation air craft :f15 f16 f18 mig 29 su 27

  • happy crow

    f15 introduction 1972, f16 introduction 1975, f18 introduction 1978, f14 introduction 1972…shut up and go watch fashion channel.

  • Advisor!!!

    Sounds like a bunch kids gathered in this room comparing toys. Guys, go get an education!! With some you can tell even more by their avatars.


    come to war then you can see what happens to your HQ in Bahrain .
    no need to have modern aircraft , missile will do and FYI Iran border till your HQ in Bahrain is just 250 miles away .100 missile will make it to dust .again FYI as per pentagon intelligence Iran has 6000-8000 midway missile .

  • EveryManBill

    There is no reason to think… none whatsoever… that the aim-54 isn’t being remanufactured in Iran. They reverse engineered the f-14 tomcat and make their own parts. They are continuously overhauling some broke down tomcats and putting them back into service. my bet is that they were smart enough to also reverse engineer the aim-54 phoenix missile.