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 freelance 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. A super small drone with a thermite payload would probably be able to land on the aircraft carrier, deposit the payload, and take off again (all the while evading detection). Looks like the damn thing is made of wood.

    • Are u trying to imply that Iran made this ac to show off that they will use it for the navy ? U know that this is a movie prop right? Oh u didn’t know?

    • yup, we already have it figured out..we’re going to drop a termite (spelling correct) bomb on this one from a UAV. Let them try and call Terminex from Iran..ooooh, the phone bill, ha, ha.

  2. LOL. This mockup aircraft carrier is probably one of the greatest all time Iranian fails. Falling somewhere between the stealth flying boats and the Qaher 313.

    • R u kidding me ? This is made for a movie … U know about the incident when us shot down the civilian airliner . Get a grip

      • Yep, I’m sure it’s totally for a movie – and totally not going to be used for hilarious Iranian propaganda or anything.

        • The Iranians said it themselves .. It’s for a god damnn movie … Deal with it

          • The also said the Qaher 313 was a real stealth fighter – and the stealth flying boats could evade radar. LMAO

            Deal with it.

        • all talk about a muckup all around news from day to day.
          seems you people are propaganda people

          they did not say anything except once “its for a movie”

      • Kurt Cobain–RIP, how can you expect people who get all their information about the world from mainstream media like Fox “news”, even to know about that incident? You expect too much.

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