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. Reminds me of “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” Get a clue..the Emperor is STILL naked.
    Look closely, you can see daylight through the rear of the carrier..its hull is only a hollow prop like the outside of buildings in a wild west movie..the conning tower is just a four walled facade, and the F-5 jets on the deck, well, that’s just laughable, but the mock-up of the F/A 18 in old pre-low visibility Jolley Rodger livery is interesting, and obviously fake. Iran is wasting so much on fakery, one has to wonder about their intelligence. Guess all that sun will bake a brain afterall.

    • The old times the Romans who were trying to conquer the world called the non Romans barbarians n themselves as stars in the night sky….. Now we’ve got the average Americans calling nyone who’s against their imperialism as terrorists or communists ……..

  2. I’m from Iran and i know this Islamic regime very well. They certainly use if for propaganda. Something like destroying it by a new China-made missiles or through an invasion by a bunch of washed-brain Basijis to claim that they can defeat the U.S Armed Forces!!! Some time like the next Day of Army or the memorial ceremony for the 8 year war.

  3. nice way to test and implement Navy industrial capacity for building bigger or huge ship.
    seems Iranian are trying to improve fast and increase their capacity to the point that they are using muckup ship for film to their advantages.

  4. lolllllllllllllllll………………….The Iranians should open a comedy club………

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