• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • "Top Gun" Turns 25, but the Military Technology Is Even Older

    Remember the movie “Top Gun”? The film is 25 years old, but the military technology that played a starring role in the plot is even older. In today’s Washington Examiner, James Carafano reflects on the state of that arsenal today and why “getting America’s Maverick back” is so important:

    At the end of the 1986 box-office hit, Maverick takes on a half-dozen MIG fighters. Four go down in flames. Two high-tail it for home. But it wasn’t the hot shot Navy pilot’s ego that carried the day. It was his ride: the then-state-of-the-art F-14 Tomcat.

    Though the film was pure Hollywood, the hardware was real . . .

    Dave Baranek, a real Top Gun, flew enemy MIGs in the movie. His memoir, “Top Gun Days,” recalls that the F-14′s “trump card” was the AIM-54 Phoenix missile.

    “We could launch at a target 100 miles away,” he wrote. “Only F-14s carried the Phoenix missile, and no other missile in the world approached its performance.” The plane, the man, and the missile were an unbeatable team. That was then. Top Gun marks its 25th anniversary. Much has changed.

    The F-14 fleet, first fielded in 1974, has been retired. Maverick’s carrier, USS Enterprise, is now 50 years old. The Navy is seriously thinking about decommissioning it.

    Of course, the Navy and the other services have lots of equipment almost as old, just as old, or even older. Much of it has seen a lot of active service throughout the long war, and that kind of wear and tear makes America’s aging arsenal seem even older.

    That aging arsenal underscores why saving money by cutting back on defense spending is dangerous to our military — and our national defense. Carafano writes:

    To protect our nation, the best way to save money is to invest in the future — not just repairing our worn and depleted arsenal, but modernizing our arsenal so we can retain our edge in future combat. Stop investing in the military today, and there will be no more Top Guns tomorrow.

    Read more in The Washington Examiner.

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    8 Responses to "Top Gun" Turns 25, but the Military Technology Is Even Older

    1. George Colgrove, VA says:

      Agreed, we desperately need to upgrade our military. Due to the American Citizens desire to not raise the debt limit (57% opposed 19% in favor), all line items will be hit. Federal spending will be below $2 trillion.

      Here is the challenge: If the Defense budget were to become $460 billion inclusive of ongoing combat operations what will conservatives choose to prioritize for the defense budget. I would love for the Heritage Foundation to act as the Defense Secretary and pretend that we are hit with a massive push to cut federal spending. What would the defense budget look like? We know what we need to do with just about everything else, except defense. What do we do?

      Every American says yes to upgrading our "Top Guns". But do we want to maintain the DoD jobs programs, non-military aid programs, rebuilding programs, the administrative sloth that is consuming billions, the continuation of multitudes of replicative programs, and so on. With all the Heritage Foundation offers, we need true conservative leadership to protect our military when the neccessary cuts come. We know the federal workforce will do what they need to protect their licrative jobs. They maybe given the power to choose what stays and what goes. What ratio of federal workers to soldiers are we willing to accept? Now it is an alarming 2 soldiers to 1 fed! Is this good? Feds get paid twice a solder does on average – is this good?

      We have reached the debt limit. We the people have spoken, we do not want to raise it. Cuts are in order soon. What will they be.

      Yes, modernize the Miitary. Make the DoD accountable for the waste, fraud and poor choices they made over the last 10 years. Get a full accounting of where the money went and strike policy that prevents those choices to be made ever again. We will never have a solid military if we allow the DoD feds to get away with allowing our defense dollars to bleed out.

    2. David, Anaheim, CA says:

      Actually, the main lesson from the movie is training, training, training. Technology can be matched or at least come close enough that training will make the difference. (Vietnam). So, while we need to keep our competitive edge with new and better planes, never forget the training is what makes the difference. Ask the Egyptians, Syrians, Jordanians and the Israelis about that.

    3. Pingback: “Top Gun” Turns 25, but the Military Technology Is Even Older | The Conservative Papers

    4. J.W. Noord says:

      I say lets go back to the Monroe doctrine. Essentially tel the rest of the world to take a hike. We can produce all we need between the USA, Brasil, Canada, Mexico and others. We have all the energy we need, we have no reason to be part of a "global economy" without the USA there would be no global economy.

      We need to pull Chinas guts out by restricting trade with them, and bringing jobs back to the USA.

    5. Pingback: PA Pundits - International

    6. Pingback: PA Pundits - International

    7. Todd - Virginia says:

      Yes, upgrade our military but do it smartly. A smart DOD will look at emerging threats and gear a well funded R&D program to counter those threats that the "Think Tanks" see on the horizon. We need to stop wasting money on programs that simply repackage existing technology or chase the "shiny object" of today's headlines.

      We saw a smart R&D project in action wiht the stealth rotary wing aircratg used in the Bin Laden raid. That is a good R&D program that has application. Taking the existing M-4 rifle and hanging more stuff on it, or re-configuring the stock is not good use of DOD funds. The government needs to push private industry to develop new technology by providing the funding necessary so that today's technology continues to develop. Private industry will then take those ideas and find ways to market it for society's good.

      The government has done this for the last two decades (railroad development in the 1800's lead to the growth and development of our countries natural resources, WWII lead to the advances in medicine, transportation, radio, television, etc, and the space program lead to all kinds of today's modern gadgets).

      That is how the government and especially the DOD should use its resources to help society. Not through social engineering and creating a welfare dependent society.

    8. Dave Selvy. Californ says:

      Much of what is our success, is made up of the pure faith and allegance to our country as espoused by our armed forces. The commentary by Mr. Colgrove, is spot on vis a vis the FEDS. They are a glutonous, force fed pox as a group. The good are severely out numbered by the "takers" within. They are also a part of the political system that is failing us in Washington. We are being overrun by our own lazyness and fools. People who have come here illegally, joining forces with those who have disenfranchised themselves by their own sloth. What do we do? We feed, clothe and house them anyway… at the expense of our fighting men and women of the military.

      We have a porous border with lawyers making decisions instead of the people. Who are these lawyers? Politicians. Politicos who are fed with votes from the disenfranchised feeding at their troughs.

      Where did we go wrong? We got lazy and instead of learning what is needed to be done, by our own sweat, study and research… we believe the "talking heads and mainstream print media" telling us, what is wrong and what we should do about it…THEY have an agenda and it is to NOT tell the truth. It is by that means, to manipulate us to this end.

      You want to be scared to your very foundations? Stand outside of a highschool at 3 Pm and watch what walks out. The products of the politicos are raising OUR children, people.

      If we don't fix this, by taking back the schools, the children, our PRIVATE homes and the Government, we will see that END.

      in the words of a great philosopher, the young of today have no knowledge of…, "We has met the enemy and he are us"…Pogo.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×