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. Maybe, if they look real close, they’ll see a really big box marked Revell next to it…….

    • Maybe if you look closely at media other than American mdm like Fox “news”, you’ll actually learn something.

  2. My money says they tow it out in the Indian ocean set up some cameras and test their first nuke on it. They will do it just before the elections to fully embarrass the US and O (who is just trying to get enough time to make sure it pops on the next guys watch ala Clinton Norks). The Iranians have a self destructive tendency to cut their nose off humiliating weak dems for shorterm gain while spiting their face getting Repubs elected. Not saying the repub will do anything different once Iran is nuclear it would take a first nuclear strike to ensure the 100% destruction of any possible Iranian bombs before risking a invasion. Iran knows this we know this that is why it is before or never.

  3. It is for a film, get a grip people. We make some of the best films in the world by international award counts.

    • Sure, Sure, you make the best everything not just movies.

      This isn’t Hollywood you idiot no one makes a giant mockup of a freakin’ aircraft carrier just to blow it up for an unknown local movie (not even a big seller!) (also a 3D model would be cheaper and better). After this how ever they’ll probably use it in a movie cause it’s not good for the real reason anymore.

      • But Hollywood built titanic then destroyed it all for a movie u nincompoop

        • As I mentioned this isn’t Hollywood, second, that was in 1997 not 2014 and as I read somewhere it wasn’t a whole ship also Titanic made a billion dollars, this movie wont make a million even.

          • Americans and money. It is not always about money. It is about art and showing the story and fate of 299 innocent people.

      • we do have one of the best artistic cinema in the world. It is a fact; stop the sarcasm. Who says they want to blow it up?? It will not be blown up. btw what on earth can such a thing be used for ?? We scare you that much? I mean you have so much hardware and weapons I bet u cannot even keep track of ur nuclear bombs and all.

        • “we do have one of the best artistic cinema in the world” Yes, One of the most artistic governments too. I understand each year MILLIONS of folks try to sneak into Iran!!!

    • What’s the movies name? Persian remake of Saving Nemo? Great to know Iran has enough xtra cash to build huge fake aircraft carriers.

  4. I sure hope they are not planning to do their entire movie in an 1:1 scale and actually shoot down another airliner for the sake of cinematic artistry!

      • you didn get it, tally hoped they are not going to shot down another airliner to make it realistic.

        • Actually I think they plan to use an actual plane for the shoot down as well. An old plane plus some special effect.

  5. The only thing that is “mysterious” about this is who both the US Navy and NY Times either didn’t know or didn’t bother reporting that Iran was making a move, the MOST OBVIOUS explanation, making them either stupid or evil.

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