Fighter agility

Undeniably popular, public air displays – where fighter pilots and manufacturers aim to out-stunt each other – have the effect of distorting what really matters in modern air combat. Air Power Association President, Air Marshal (ret’d) Greg Bagwell CB CBE sets the record straight…

Who can forget the immortal Top Gun quote: “I feel the need, the need for speed”? However, I’m sorry to tell you that this iconic movie grossly misrepresents the finer art of air combat, where employing Maverick’s questionable tactics would end up with you on the dreaded “alternates board”. And the high-agility airshow routines beloved of today’s fighter manufacturers are almost as misleading as Hollywood’s take on aerial combat.

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