Top Gun over the desert: All the fancy aircraft of Naval Fighter Weapons School at NAS Fallon

Sep 12 2014 - 8 Comments

Naval Air Station Fallon in Nevada is the United States Navy’s most important air-to-air and air-to-ground training facility, home of the Top Gun course. Here’s an overview of the colorful aircraft based there.

The Aggressors and their way to play the adversary role is considered one of the best way to train U.S. fighter pilots, improve their proficiency and prepare them to deal with tomorrow’s air threats.

Their role is usually quite simple: they have to threaten the strike force in the same way a modern enemy would do in a real war, forcing fighter pilots to react to the attack. Such training could one day improve their chance of surviving a close encounter with an enemy Mig.

Aircraft assigned to the Adversary role replicate tactics, mission profiles as well as markings and insignas of their near peer adversaries. In order to make training as real as possible adversaries often sport “splinter” color schemes, that are inspired by Russian 4th and 5th generation aircraft, along with traditional camouflaged livery, like that used by the Russian Naval Aviation.

55. F-16A. NSAWC. NAS Fallon, with Mount Augusta in the back ground

Most of the aircraft assigned to the NSAWC (Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center) – the U.S. Navy unit that since 1996 is responsible for TOPGUN courses, Strike University (Strike U), the Naval Strike Warfare Center, and TOPDOME (the Carrier Airborne Early Warning Weapons School) wears desert or Su-27-like color schemes to simulate the Russian or other enemy country’s “bandits” during missions flown to train other U.S. Navy squadrons.

AF-40. F-5N. VFC-13. NAS Fallon. 03.02.2014

Adversary aircraft with fancy color schemes include F-5 Tiger, F/A-18 Hornet and F-16 Viper jets, as the following interesting images, shot by The Aviationist’s photographer Tony Lovelock at NAS Fallon.

Noteworthy, there are also some F-5s with an overall color scheme inspired by Top Gun movie‘s fictional Mig-28.

Image credit: Tony Lovelock


  • Stu

    Those are ex-Pakistani embargoed F-16s correct?

    • InvaderNat

      If they are, they would’ve been the ones New Zealand was thinking of buying in 2000. Decided we didn’t need fighter jets after all though.

  • InklingBooks

    Different Top Gun fighter aircraft need to be matched with different aggressor aircraft to ensure a fair fight. This is the one the US Navy has chosen to go head-to-head with the new Lockheed Martin F-35.

    • Roland Lawrence

      You are a joker. This plane is clearly flying. The F35 is a ground gripper spending months at a time on the ground.

    • Ser Arthur Dayne

      That Cessna can outperform the JSF in every aspect of the flight envelope, except maybe the amazing astonishing 50°+ AoA post stall controlled descent Lockheed showed us. Kappa.

  • Roland Lawrence

    I think the F5 got canned too soon! The light patrol cesna thing thats going to cost $20m each that cant even keep up with a jumbo let alone chase one. Am I right in saying that the US bought some of the F5s from Brazil when they *upgraded*?

  • Alois Janíček

    Most of all I like Hornet painted like Flanker.

  • InvaderNat

    Augusta 129? You mean the attack helicopter? Why on earth would NZ need those? Or do you mean the A109 light transport heli?

    As much as I love fighter aircraft, NZ didn’t really need them.