Most people know “Top Gun,” from a young Tom Cruise movie to an old Tom Cruise as seen in the sequel trailer “Top Gun: Maverick” Or perhaps you remember that epic flyby or fighter jets blasting through the sky on the big screen. However, TOPGUN, or as its official title goes, the “Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor” program, or SFTI (pronounced ‘siff-tee’), is not actually a school, per se, but rather it is an instructional course loaded with schooling, training and tactics development, and it’s held at the Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center aboard Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada.
Transcript: I uh, wanted to become the best tactical aviator I could be. (dramatic music) You’ll never really find out how good you could possibly be. (dramatic music) Coming to Top Gun is not just to make them good in the jet. (dramatic music) It’s to make them effective teachers. (techno music) – Gentlemen. You are the top one percent of all naval aviators. The elite. – Being a Top Gun instructor is rewarding. Teaching the students during the Top Gun course, seeing them improve and also working with your fellow instructors who’s common goal is to develop and teach tactics to the F/A-18 community. If someone could become a Strike-Fire Tactical Instructor, or SFTI, I would definitely encourage them to do so. The Top Gun course, while challenging, is rewarding. You learn how to become a better instructor, and you learn how to fight the aircraft in ways you’ve never done before. The Top Gun course is challenging, but uh, I think… probably gonna depend on each person going through, but the most challenging for me was just the level of preparation required for every flight in order to be successful. – All right Jester, see if I can give you a run for your money here. (jet engine roaring) – The movie I’m guessing just kinda shed a light on the Top Gun program, Top Gun course, as well as naval aviation, specifically to carrier aviation. (soft music) (intense music) – But with the advances in technology since then, the aircraft today have much more capable and advanced combat systems and sensors than aircraft 30 years ago. – The F/A-14 certainly had it’s strengths, but I would say that the F/A-18 team has done a nice job of proving itself in the war since the 9… since 9/11 specifically and also involved in Desert Storm, but I think so far as an F/A, the Fighter and attack roll, the F/A-2 has done a pretty good job, pretty nice service to the United States. (techno music) – In ten years I see Top Gun doing what it’s been doing for forty-seven years, and that’s developing, implementing, and teaching tactics for the fleet employment. (jet engine roaring)
During their time at TOPGUN, pilots learn many different things, such as alternative fighter jet maneuverability and countermeasure tactics, time management and preparation, but above all else, they learn how to take what they have learned and share it with their fellow pilots back at their command.