Tag Archives: Naval Air Station Fallon

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


U.S. Marine Corps F/A-18C crashes at NAS Fallon, Nevada. The last of a series of Hornet incidents

An F/A-18C operating over Naval Air Station Fallon Range training complex crashed into the desert on Sept. 1 at around 3.15pm local time.

The jet, belonging to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 323, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (based at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar) also known as “Death Rattlers”, was flying a training sortie when it went down for reasons that will be investigated.

Fortunately, the pilot managed to eject safely from the stricken jet; after a short stay in the Banner Churchill Community Hospital in Fallon the was released without injuries.

The incident comes few months after a U.S. Navy F/A-18D Hornet crashed into Mayfair Mews Apartments off of Fleming Drive, Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA, destroying five buildings.

On Apr. 6, at around 12.15 local time, a VFA-106 Hornet based at NAS Oceana went down for a dual engine failure. While no one was killed in the accident, several people were treated at local hospitals for injuries, including both pilots, a student pilot and an instructor, which successfully ejected at low altitude.

The investigation found that the Hornet crashed for a dual, unrelated engine failure, an occurrence tha is extraordinary unusual. The right engine stalled after it ingested a flammable liquid whereas the the left engine’s afterburner did not ignite for reasons that could not be determined because of the extensive damage to the plane.

On Dec. 8, 2008, a USMC F/A-18D (BuNo 164017) lost the only working engine (the other one had been shut down following a oil caution light shortly after departure from USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier) because of a fuel flow system problem that had not been fixed since it was identified. As a consequence of the loss of both engines (as well as a series of contributing factors, including errors by the pilot and Marine Corps personnel on the ground, who were later disciplined or relieved), the Marines Hornet, belonging to the VMFAT-101, crashed into a residential area of San Diego while attempting an emergency landing at MCAS Miramar, causing the death of four people.

Written with David Cenciotti

Image credit: U.S. Navy