Watch An Iranian F-4E Phantom Do A Roll Near A U.S. Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet During A Close Encounter

An Iranian Phantom performs what loosely reminds a Top Gun stunt while “intercepting” an American Super Hornet.

We don’t know when nor where this was filmed, still the footage, reportedly shot from an Iranian Phantom’s WSO (Weapons Systems Officer) seems genuine. It allegedly shows a U.S. Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet shadowed by an IRIAF (Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force) F-4E Phantom during a close encounter occurred somewhere over the Middle East.

The clip shows the American multirole aircraft starting a left turn and the Iranian F-4 performing a displacement roll most probably to keep the Super Hornet in sight: a maneuver that vaguely reminds the one performed in a famous scene of Top Gun.

According to some sources, the rear cockpit of the aircraft filming the “Rhino” (as the Super Hornet is dubbed in the U.S. Navy – yes, the F-4 was nicknamed Rhino because of its aggressive look but the Super Bug community “stole” it) appears to be too large for a Phantom suggesting it might be an F-14 Tomcat…

Close encounters in international airspace off Iran as well as over Iraq and Syria (where the Iranian F-4s have operated) occur quite frequently. Some funny anecdotes have emerged following these intercepts.

In 2012, two Sukhoi Su-25 jets of the IRGC (the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution) attempted to shoot down an American MQ-1 flying a routine surveillance flight in international airspace some 16 miles off Iran. Although the interception of the unmanned aircraft failed, the Pentagon decided to escort the drones involved in ISR (intelligence surveillance reconnaissance) missions with fighter jets (F-18 Hornets from aircraft carriers operating in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility or F-22 Raptors deployed to Al Dhafra in the UAE). Few months later, in March 2013, a flight of two IRIAF F-4s attempted to intercept a U.S. MQ-1 drone flying in international airspace off Iran: one of the two Phantom jets came within about 16 miles from the UAV but broke off pursuit after an F-22 Raptor providing HVAAE (High Value Air Asset Escort) flew under their the F-4 “to check out their weapons load without them knowing that he was there, and then pulled up on their left wing and then called them and said “you really ought to go home.”

Most of times, such close encounters are uneventful; however, earlier this year, a Syrian Su-22 Fitter was shot down by a U.S. Navy F/A-18E belonging to the VFA-87 “Golden Warriors” and piloted by Lt. Cmdr. Michael “Mob” Tremel,” 40 km to the southwest of Raqqa, Syria. The Syrian jet had just conducted an air strike on the anti-regime Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) aligned with the U.S. led Coalition.

Anyway, take a look at the clip. Provided the video is not doctored, where did this close encounter took place?

Let us know.

H/T our friend @winstoncdn for the heads-up






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. I can tell you , more than likely ((about 80-90% sure)) that this is authentic. If this film was shot from the IAF F-4’s back seat, which it does appear to be, then it is real. And me , having worked on the F- 4 Phantom E & G models for the US Air Force for years the canopy & ejection seat pull cord position and appearances do look authentic and all things in the proper places. Funny thing is , the US sold Iran the F- 4’s back in the days when we were Allies and the Shah of Iran was alive and in power. That means these planes are at least 45+ years old. Lord knows how sound the airframe is these days and what kind of Avionics are in the plane ??

    • Yeah, I’d like to see what kind of ASIP program they have (and I’d bet the store that they don’t have one). It’s amazing these planes aren’t falling out of the sky already. I’d like to see what kind of flight hours program they have, I’m sure it’s not impressive.

    • I have actually seen planes with missing parts over there near the airport before,They have a fighter plane junk yard that basically parts out the planes and uses the parts on the other planes,The russians are heavily involved in installing new radar systems and different upgrades,I was at azadi stadium in tehran last year for the GT races and this guy had a 1984 mercury capri and on the dyno he pushed 830hp to the wheels out of the naturally aspirated engine and i found that amazing because here in the US we would have to spend a lot of money to get that kind of horse power out of a naturally aspirated engine,My point is that they have amazing mechanics over there and they can very easily overhaul these planes.

  2. Haha you are asking for trouble and you will pay for this Iran done call Russia for help

  3. Definitely not a Tomcat. The pilot’s head is right next to a bulkhead in the vid. If you look at an IRIAF F-14, the pilot’s helmet is several feet ahead of the bulkhead. Neat video though.

  4. No expert but the view from the back of an F4 is notoriously lousy which leads me to believe this was shot from another aircraft, perhaps a Tomcat.

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