Mishap Damaged F-16 Fighting Falcon from Top Gun Command, Navy Confirms

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 F-16 Fighting Falcon is recovered after aerial maneuvers
An F-16 Fighting Falcon is recovered after aerial maneuvers at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, on Aug. 2, 2022. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Amanda Geiger)

An F-16A Fighting Falcon jet from the command of the Navy's most demanding fighter air combat course, known as Top Gun, was recently damaged in an aviation incident in California, according to the service.

The mishap happened at Naval Air Station Lemoore, California, on Sept. 25 during recovery, resulting in damage to the "left tire or main mount," a Navy spokesperson told Military.com. The Naval Safety Center listed it as a Class A mishap, a category of incidents that cause $2.5 million or more in damages, or a destroyed aircraft.

There were no significant injuries, according to the Navy. The F-16A was assigned to the Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center but was on detachment to the Lemoore air station, according to the spokesperson.

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The Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center in Fallon, Nevada, is home to the Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor Course, widely known as Top Gun. The Navy describes its Top Gun course as the "most demanding air combat syllabus found anywhere in the world."

Top Gun was established in 1969 as the U.S. Navy Fighter School.

The demanding aviation school was made popular with the 1986 hit movie "Top Gun" starring Tom Cruise as a naval aviator with the call sign Maverick. Cruise reprised his role in the 2022 sequel "Top Gun: Maverick."

Prior to 2015, the Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center was known as the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center.

The F-16A is a single-seat fighter aircraft that serves in an adversary role in aviation combat training, according to the Navy. However, the service could not confirm at the time of publication whether the aircraft involved in the mishap was serving as an adversarial fighter.

The Navy had 10 Class A aviation mishaps as of the end of September, according to data from the Naval Safety Center. There were 16 Class A aviation mishaps in fiscal 2022.

The Naval Safety Center's data on Class A mishaps includes both manned and drone aviation platforms.

Class A aviation mishaps over the last two years are fewer than the peak over the past decade of 17 in 2014.

The F-16A incident is currently under investigation and the Navy could not provide any further information, a service spokesperson told Military.com.

-- Shawn Snow is a freelance reporter and Marine veteran. He previously reported for Military Times covering the Marine Corps and overseas operations. He is on X @ShawnSnow184, and can be reached at shawnsnow184@yahoo.com.

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