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

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


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.