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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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

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