Iran’s fake aircraft carrier features fake F/A-18 Hornet in Jolly Rogers livery

Recent satellite imagery showed Tehran is building a fake U.S. aircraft. New photographs prove that Iran’s Nimitz class mock flattop hosts several (fake) planes, including some CAG birds and a Jolly Rogers F/A-18 Hornet.

Iran is not only working on a mock American aircraft carrier. New images posted on Facebook show that the USS Nimitz class ship being assembled in an Iranian shipyard on the Persian Gulf most probably for propaganda purposes (do you remember the F-313 Qaher stealth jet?) or as a movie prop, now features also some embarked planes.

Noteworthy, along with some F-5 Tiger aircraft (serving with the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force but not existing in a carrier-variant) parked on the flight deck of the fake Iranian carrier there are also some fake F/A-18 Hornets.

One of the two in special color scheme sports the unique livery and markings of the legendary VFA-103 “Jolly Rogers”.

The Jolly Rogers are one of the most famous squadron in U.S. Navy. They currently fly the F/A-18F Super Hornet adorned with Ensign Jack Ernie’s skull-and-crossbones on all-black tails, their symbol and probably the most recognizable one in Naval Aviation (to such an extent you can find it in Disney’s “Planes” cartoon).

The reason for using CAG (Carrier Air Group) planes in special colors makes Iran’s mysterious aircraft carrier’s flight deck slightly more realistic but the question remains: why did Tehran spend so much money to build such a huge model?

As mentioned before, it might be a prop for an upcoming movie (about an Iranian airliner shot down by a U.S. cruiser in 1988) as reported by some media outlets; still, considering the effort in building the mock up it is also possible that the ship will serve for more military purposes: for instance testing new technologies and/or training warplanes to attack a U.S. flattop in the Persian Gulf exploiting its vulnerabilities.

In either cases, just a waste of money…

H/T Guido Olimpio for the heads-up. Image credit: IRIAF Facebook page

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. Its not for a movie. It was part of a propaganda exercise to show the world, and their populace of course, how great and mighty their powerful navy will perform when the inevitable direct conflict with the US Navy occurs:

    Of course, we all know that the Iranians are clowns and that they will be badly beaten in a sea-borne tragic comedy for the ages once they do successfully provoke us into conflict.

  2. My god what uneducated Idiots are publishing here and also on other places…it is remarkable how people are brainwashed and uneducated in some western countries..Iran has pretty good film production industry and this one was used for that purpose and after that it was used as target in naval drill.Iran armed forces have being used widely in Iranian film.industry…so it is not waste of money for sure….but hey….when some western production build whole city for recording movie or series and spends millions for it…that is investment but when it is done in Iran….well than it is pripaganda or waste of money at best…but since this post will be filetered probably I would say I’m the one who is wasting time….but I suppose in western countries filtering is called moderation while when someone do the same somewhere else it would be called censorship…and just for record I’m from Europe….but this Iranofobia and propaganda against Iran is slowly becoming like illness

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