Naval Aviator explains why the F-35 and its incredible capabilities would have made Top Gun: Maverick boring

Naval Aviator explains why the F-35 and its incredible capabilities would have made Top Gun: Maverick boring

By Dario Leone
Feb 26 2024
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The F-35

The 5th generation F-35 Lightning II integrates advanced stealth technology into a highly agile, supersonic aircraft that provides the pilot with unprecedented situational awareness and unmatched lethality and survivability.

As new threats emerge, it is more important than ever for US and allied fighter fleets to fly the F-35 stealth fighter, the world’s only 5th generation international aircraft. While each aircraft is uniquely designed to operate from different environments, all three variants set new standards in network-enabled mission systems, sensor fusion and supportability. The F-35 redefines the multirole fighter.

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The F-35 and its incredible capabilities

To understand what makes the jet such a formidable force, Straight Arrow News’ Ryan Robertson spoke with Tony “Brick” Wilson, a retired Navy aviator and current Lockheed Martin F-35 test pilot.

Wilson explained;

“With a single F-35 and the capability that it brings to the pilot, you can identify almost anything that’s out there.”

For the first time in US naval aviation history, radar-evading stealth capability comes to the carrier deck. The F-35C carrier variant sets new standards in weapon system integration, lethality, maintainability, combat radius and payload that bring true multimission power projection capability from the sea.

Naval Aviator explains why the F-35 and its incredible capabilities would have made Top Gun: Maverick boring
Tony “Brick” Wilson is an F-35 Test Pilot. Before joining Lockheed Martin, he served in the US Navy. Brick was the first F-35 pilot to land an F-35C on an aircraft carrier. Today, he flies all models of the F-35. 

The F-35C combines lessons learned from previous aircraft with technology breakthroughs to produce a fighter that retains its stealthy advantage with minimal low observable maintenance, even in the harshest shipboard conditions.

F-35 pilots now benefit significantly from advanced technology that provides them with a clearer understanding of the battlefield. This advancement renders traditional dogfights essentially obsolete.

“If I have the capability to find, fix and track an aircraft to include what its identification is, then I can pick the best tactic to solve that tactical challenge, long before this threat ever knows that I’m even there,” Wilson added.

The F-35 would have made Top Gun: Maverick boring

Naval Aviator explains why the F-35 and its incredible capabilities would have made Top Gun: Maverick boring

Helmets, too, play a crucial role: in fact the aircraft itself isn’t the sole technological leap making life in the cockpit more manageable.

“If you’d asked me or told me when I first started flying about this helmet, I would have been like, ‘This is something out of Star Wars,’” Wilson said. “The capability I see today, I can only imagine and get excited about what’s in the future with this helmet.”

In the realm of movies, when asked about the most unrealistic pilot depiction in Hollywood, Wilson pointed to “Top Gun: Maverick.”

“When they said we couldn’t send in fifth-gen. Right, because of X, Y, or Z. It was completely fake news,” he said. “The reason Maverick Top Gun didn’t use the F-35 was because it would have made the movie boring. They would have launched off the carrier, they would have picked their way through the threat, they would have put the bomb on the target and come back undetected.”

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H/T Earl Belz

Photo credit: Paramount Pictures and Lockheed Martin

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Dario Leone

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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