ACM: Air Combat Maneuvers

I am really not sure at all what made me start thinking about this, but something’s been bothering me about the movie Top Gun (and I don’t mean that’s all one big gay allegory).

Early in the movie, in the first scene in Miramar, Jester is explaining the origins of Fighter Weapons School.  He says something like:

“During Korea, we shot down twelve of their jets for every one of ours.  During Vietnam, that ratio fell to 3-1.  Our pilots were too dependant on missiles.  Top Gun was created to teach ACM: Air Combat Maneuvering. Dogfighting.  By the end of Vietnam, it was back up to 12-1.”

Yes, yes, all well and good.  Well, what’s been bugging me is that it seems Fighter Weapons School, aka TOPGUN, is a waste of time.  Because fresh from graduation, and in their first dogfight after learning the skills of dogfighting intending to reduce dependence on missiles, Maverick and Iceman splash four MiG-28’s (fictional planes, btw) by using exclusively missiles.  They don’t fire their guns a single time.  Five missiles fired, four hits (one miss).  Uh, guys?  Remember dogfighting skills?  Meanwhile, the “bad guy” pilots are using guns and some great flight maneuvers (the “hit the brakes he’ll fly right by” notwithstanding).  And the message is: that’s a good way to lose a dogfight!

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5 responses to “ACM: Air Combat Maneuvers

  1. See my comment to your previous post. This kind of B’iyun Top Gun Analysis will not make anyone happy other than some 14 year old girls (in 1986).

  2. Well in Maverick’s case, I think his scientology beliefs somehow interfered with his machine gun skills, though he had honed them quite well under the tutelage of Jester, Viper and Kelly McGillis. As for Ice man and the rest – no excuse.

  3. I found the “b’iyun Top Gun analysis” interesting.

  4. Come on, Rob. Don’t tell me you don’t love it.

  5. I think the problem in Vietnam was not the dependence of pilots on missiles but rather on overdepending on technology to defeat opponents. Even if you intend to kill with missiles, you still have to turn and burn to get into an optimal position to use your ordnance. That’s what is taught in Top gun.

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