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

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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About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. 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 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.

    • 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.

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

    • 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?

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

    • 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.

    • Saddam and asad were novices when jt came to using wmds. It is Americans who chose 2 Japanese cities untouched by the war, to show Japan what would happen if they don’t surrender. That is the very definition of war crime
      Saddam mostly killed iranians, with western support, it will always be doubtful if asad used chemical weapons. The timing was suicidal for asad to use these weapons jyst when world powers were about to meet to decide how to punish asad. It stank off false flag missions everytime and trumps, israelis and the arab monarchs who shipped in terrorists from everywhere, and imposed them on mostly secular communities in syria and even iraq, who were happier under a dictator like asad who didn’t care about religion or how people lived asclong as they didn’t go against the government. It is the governments who pretended to
      supplied ordinary people with heavy weapons that they used against asads army and civilians. Aleppo was portrayed like it was Sarajevo, and it was said again and again that asad would kill millions. Well he didn’t .
      Arab governments especially Saudis and emeritis spent billions on weapons which violated international law as the rnd users were various terror organisations. Eastern European countries sold old soviet weapons and ammo, Israeli hospitals full of bearded holly worries recovering from war injuries were shown on TV, hardly any women or children kr old men who should be the main groups of casualties of a civil war fought in cities with millions trapped inside.
      Like the chemical weapons of saddam which lead to an illegal war, like asads chemical weapons a
      Attck on civilians or where the weapons came which were enough to prolong the war but which would never allow so called freedom fighters to win because they were never given anti aircraft missiles because everyone knew these were terrorists who were there to kill shias and non muslims for a wage paid by arab money. There would be no enquiry who was responsible for supplying weapons to civilian, if any angry protesters say against trump were given weapons, it would not be a nobel noble gesture it would be a crime because it paved the way for blood shed. Trump and USA is a democracy and it was a bad example. Say saudi Arabia or any other country, turning protests into civil is a crime against humanity, it like all the things mentioned above would never be investigated, like how 15 Saudis were involved in 9/11 but saudi Arabia is such valuable client of UK especially that Blair stopped a seriouse fraud office inquiry into billions paid to saudi princes since 80s on arm deals. Last September a bbc documentary showed a European companys representative who saud that he had ended all business with the saudis because it wasn’t historic bribes but they were still being paid as main components of the contracts were things like maintenance and support which means big money is still flowing bothways. It was revealed the the European man that bribes were always worked into the contract but tge percentage kept growing. His company stopped when the princes demanded 57 percent of the money for entire contract as bribes to be paid into separate accounts. All this was under old regimes, mbs is famous for recovering money, even from rotal families, Ritz hotel in Riyadh has become famous for upside down hanging princes. But hust in those few months mbs spent 1.5 billion dollars on a painting a vineyard in France and a yacht. I wonder where a thirty year old prince had got the money from, but we have to wait untill some other family takes over the government and old accounts are settled.
      What does all this means? Americans are still great at pretending that they have the moral high ground but it is clear from iraq, iran and syria that the will ignore any crime of an ally and they will say or do anything to destroy an enemy. There is no authority which can even investigate these things which affect millions of lives. Asad is blamed by everyone but at the other side of saudi Arabia the Saudis are being supplied by weapons and intel and supported in everyway s tgey bomb innocent people of Yemen, probably for a nice sum that goes to one country then disappears into a foreign account. It is all good for some people,

      Both Saddam and Asad( most likely the other side was usi g them, every time there was a major confrence, day or two before there would be pictures of babies and boys being washed with water. RT did a piece on this and it was first time i realized how every major news channel was misleading the western public, even after Asad gave up aĺl of his chemical weapons.)
      Saddam used them mostly against iranian, west, especially Americans did nothing, weapons and money and satellite intel kept pouring in, while iran was embargoed. Without western intel alone saddam would have lost the war but west kept informing him when Iranian army was gathering in number for big attack.
      It seems that bad guys are not that bad compared to the good guys but who can bring both sides to justice???

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