Ok so first thing is first, and we should just get this out of the way from the beginning: The Mig 28 is a FICTIONAL aircraft featured in the movie Top Gun. Aviation aficionados would be the first to point out the "tell" about the Mig 28. That is, all of the MIG planes manufactured since the MIG program's inception in the late 1930s have been labeled with odd numbers and never even ones. For example, there is the Mig 3, 17, 19, 25, 27, 29 and I think you get the idea. Let's take a look at some true and fun facts regarding the Mig 28 and the movie Top Gun:
1) The real "enemy" aircraft featured in Top Gun was actually F-5E Tiger IIs and not actual MIG aircraft. The planes were originally manufactured as part of a private project in the late 1950s by the Northrop Corporation. The designers of this aircraft (and others like it) essentially fitted a highly aerodynamic shell around two very compact and powerful J85 General Electric engines. The F series planes were known as light fighters and were easy to manufacture and maintain making them very attractive for the end-user. Despite being a light fighter plane, these planes could engage the enemy if necessary and many of these F series planes were sold to other friendly nations. The F series planes were initially rolled out in the 1960s during the Korean war but nowadays they are primarily used as training aircraft making them particularly attractive for the Top Gun producers.
2) The many aircraft featured in the Tom Cruise classic were on-loan from the US Navy. In fact, both the US Navy and the Pentagon were highly involved in the movie's production. While Top Gun is a fighter jet, military classic, and by no means a protest movie, the US government wanted to be sure that any scenes featured in the movie would not easily offend other nations and start a conflict.
3) The actual "enemy" in the movie is kept deliberately vague and allows the viewer to guess as to who the enemy is. Could it be the former Soviet Union? Could it be North Korea? Even the paint schemes don't match reality. For example, the fictional Mig 28 features a red star surrounded by a yellow circle whereas the real Soviet Union used a white circle and the North Koreans used a blue circle.
It should be noted that Top Gun was released in 1986 but a year earlier, in 1985, the Mig 29 was put into service. The MIG 29 features much more aerodynamic surfaces unlike its predecessors and resembles much more closely the "enemy" aircraft featured in Top Gun. Some have speculated that the fictional MIG 28 was a nod to the former Soviet Union's real MIG 29. Do some research for yourself and look at the pictures of the Mig 29 and draw your own conclusions. Also, there is much additional material on Top Gun and the fictional MIG 28. Happy reading!
Written by: natesmith2122