The US Navy’s TOPGUN fighter weapons school is marking 50 years of training. Combat Aircraft charts its history and success and finds a center of excellence that is adapting for the future.
In March, the Navy Fighter Weapons School, otherwise known as TOPGUN, marked the 50th anniversary of the graduation of its first class. Eight students — four pilots and four Radar Intercept Officers (RIOs) from F-4 Phantom II fighter squadrons — completed the then four-week course and received a blue and red shoulder patch that is still revered today. Five decades later, TOPGUN is going strong and continues in the traditions of its founders, having a huge impact on all of US naval aviation.