Top Gun Maverick review

I watched the new Top Gun movie recently and I actually liked it, but I couldn’t help myself noticing a few things that probably make sense to Americans, and to nobody else.

The hypersonic Mach 10 prototype in the beginning of the movie would have been Russian. The Americans can’t pull that off.

The mission is to bomb some sort of “rogue state’s” underground nuclear facility that’s protected by SAM’s and 5-gen fighters. What kind of a country has 5-gen fighters and still doesn’t have nukes? The 5-gen fighters in the movie are the SU-57 with a dark color scheme, probably to appear more villainous, but the target description looks more like Iran. The target is an underground facility inside something that looks like a deep crater in the mountains, which makes no sense whatsoever, because how would that thing even get built there? Also, why would anyone build it in terrain so difficult to defend properly, and then leave the “air vent” at the bottom of the damn crater where it’s actually the least likely to vent anything? This looks like something of a Bond villain’s lair, if anything, but I guess the Americans think it’s perfectly plausible that “villains” do crazy things like that. After all, they are “rogue” and “crazy” and intend to destroy the world because, well, evil.

The mission is almost an ideal case for either a cruise missile attack through the canyon, using TERCOM/DSMAC guidance, or an overhead attack from either high altitude or using a hypersonic deorbiting vehicle. To use fighter jets in such a scenario is utterly insane, for several reasons. First, the probability of success is extremely low, because it exceeds realistic capability of both pilots and airplanes. Second, the political implications of planes shot down and pilots getting captured and paraded on TV are unpleasant. Third, the tomahawks give you an almost endless number of second chances, unlike the fighter-bomber assault, which either works in the first attempt or not at all. Also, the tomahawks were indeed used to attack a nearby airfield, which implies that they went through the target air defenses without difficulty, which is not realistic, but if it worked on the airfield, why not through the canyon and into the crater? After all, the Tomahawks don’t really need to be fast, since they are not attempting to get out of there alive after striking the target.

The assault is launched from an aircraft carrier, and it somehow doesn’t get noticed in advance, there are no enemy ships with anti-aircraft missiles intercepting the assault, there are no radar stations on the coast to detect either the airplanes or the Tomahawks, and yet the country has lethal air defenses elsewhere, and 5-gen fighters. How in the hell would that be a realistic scenario? Even Iran would send a hundred patrol boats with MANPADs to harass the intruder. Anyone capable would have the shore bristling with mobile radars and rocket launches the moment American fleet was noticed anywhere near the nautical border. The canyon and crater defenses would be the last line of defense, not the first thing the Americans would encounter. In fact, the aircraft carrier would have to live in constant fear of being struck by hypersonic missiles from either the shore or the enemy ships, in a several hundred kilometer range. Also, it would have to live in fear of enemy hunter-seeker submarines. After all, we’re talking about a foe that has SU-57 fighters. The moment the enemy figures out where the attack came from, that aircraft carrier is in acute danger of becoming a radioactive coral reef.

The defending SU-57 fighter jets are called “bandits” by the Americans. How is someone defending his country from a foreign invader a “bandit”? But that’s how the Americans see the world. A country doing things on its own territory that America did during the WW2 is “rogue”, its defenders are “bandits”, and the Americans attacking a foreign country by a sneak Pearl Harbor-like attack, they are the “good guys”.

Other than that, the movie was great. 🙂