Top Gun: Maverick | The Essential Explanation

Like Top Gun: Maverick?

Join our movie club to get similar movie recommendations and stories delivered to your inbox every Friday.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

We hate bad email too, so we don’t send it or share your email with anyone.

Reader Interactions


  1. The movie pays homage to the story of the Israeli Air Force raid on Iraq’s Nuclear reactor in 1981.The attack was carried out by F16s carrying fuel and bomb loads greater than the planes were designed for. They started their takeoff rolls with their main gear a bit shy of the runway’s end and used full afterburners to rotate just before the other end. They could barely climb out. Flying a circuitous path around Saudi Arabia, they flew on the deck as in “Maverick”. As they approached the target they went full afterburner and climbed at the maximum angle the air frame and engines could muster to 8000 feet. They then inverted so they could see their target. The attack run’s first bomb blew the dome to pieces; a miss would have potentially filled the sky with dust from a ground strike. With the dome gone the next 15 one ton bombs hit the reactor with only one “dud”. The idea was for one missile to eliminate the dome and one more was needed to destroy the reactor. When the job was done the whole place was decimated. 30,000 pounds of high explosive devices flying into a dome the size of the one on a medium size observatory was no easy job. After each plane released it’s bombs, they would pull a bit of positive G’s, roll and do a maximum G pull out and run full afterburner toward and over Jordan toward home. No aircraft were lost. It was one of the greatest sneak attacks in history. While all F16s landed safely, none were any longer flight-worthy from extreme over stress and required major repairs and maintenance. I believe several were “write-offs”. “Elon” – the last pilot in the attack order, later became an astronaut and died in the 1986 Challenger disaster. If you think “Top Gun Maverick” was a great movie, you’ll greatly appreciate “Target One Reactor”.

    It is important to remember that becoming a competent fighter/bomber pilot is no easy task. but to risk dying on takeoff, flying for hours, and them doing a precision bombing run on a target the size of a modest house with no misses while pushing aircraft far beyond all design parameters was amazing. The fact that no bombs missed and everyone got home alive makes we wonder where to draw the line between good execution and “miracle”.

Write a response