In Top Gun, a US warship is placed in the Indian Ocean. In the opening and climax of the movie, US fighter planes are in a dogfight with MiGs, but the country is not revealed.

Why was a US warship present in the Indian Ocean, and to which country did these MiGs belong?

  • 3
    usually MiGs are from Russia and/or allies from Russia
    – Vishwa
    Commented Sep 2, 2019 at 7:18
  • 5
    @Vishwa there was no Russia in 1986, only the Soviet Union
    – TK-421
    Commented Sep 2, 2019 at 8:56
  • 12
    @TK-421: no need to be pedantic. Russia has been existing as a nation way before USSR.
    – Taladris
    Commented Sep 3, 2019 at 0:08
  • 17
    @Taladris And Babylonia existed as a country way before Iraq, but if you tried to answer a question with Babylonia when you mean Iraq, it would cause more confusion than enlightenment. That said, TK-421 is wrong. Russia did exist in 1986, as the largest of the sovereign Republics that made up the USSR. Saying it didn't exist would be like saying that Texas doesn't currently exist because it's now a state that's part of the US and no longer an independent nation.
    – Elezar
    Commented Sep 3, 2019 at 2:04
  • 15
    @TK-421 As others have mentioned, Russia absolutely existed in 1986. In addition, as it was the largest and most powerful SSR in the Union, and the government of the USSR was seated in the capital of Russia, the terms “Russia” and “The USSR” were used interchangeably during the 80s, and probably for most of the existence of the USSR. Even presidents and chairmen of the joint chiefs and Secretaries of State and defense would refer to the USSR as “Russia” in speeches. Commented Sep 3, 2019 at 3:04

2 Answers 2


The country of origin for the MiG 28s (see footnote) was left intentionally vague. It would have been easy to have the pilots converse in their native language or even adorn the aircraft with unequivocal identification schemes.

That the enemy was never officially established in Proser's early draft or Jack Epps Jr's final script. This was likely intentional: villainous governments in the movies are routinely left vague as to not piss off their real-world counterparts, with the exception of North Korea, possibly because North Korea doesn't have a strong market for movies or video games.
source: Task & Purpose - Brad Howard

enter image description here

Regarding their identification markings:

However, the markings on the fictional MiG-28 aren't Soviet. The MiG-28 in the film has a single red star surrounded by a yellow circle on their tail as their only marking, while Soviet aircraft traditionally had a white trim to their red star (just to cover my bases, the North Korean Air Force uses a blue trim). However, one country does, in fact, use yellow trim on their red star insignia: China.
source: Task & Purpose - Brad Howard

enter image description here

At least one of the script's draft identified the aggressors as North Korean.

Despite the markings, North Korea is still a good guess. Producers Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson had more than one writer working on the Top Gun script. Along with Proser's draft, Jim Cash and Jack Epps, Jr. were hired to write another draft of the screenplay for the film that initially identified North Korea as the threat that Maverick and Co take on in the thrilling finale.
source: Task & Purpose - Brad Howard

During script rewrites, the conflict was moved to the Indian Ocean which further confuses the issue. Which nation sporting MiG28s supposedly armed with French made AM 39 Exocet anti-ship missile(s) would be so protective of that area?

So there is no definitive country of origin.

Apparently, the fictional MiG-28 aggressor aircraft used in the Top Gun film were actually a mix of Northrop single-seat F-5E Tiger II and two-seat F-5F Tiger II aircraft.

  • 1
    India was the main (only?) nation in the area that used Soviet kit and was wealthy enough to buy enough planes and care about the IO that much. But they weren't antagonistic towards the US.
    – RonJohn
    Commented Sep 2, 2019 at 18:34
  • 1
    One other thing interesting about the aircraft used in Too Gun is that A-4 Skyhawks were portrayed as the mock aggressors used at Miramar NAS during training, which is true to life, but another type of craft was also used as aggressors at Miramar: the F-5. Commented Sep 3, 2019 at 3:06
  • Isn't there also a scene where the enemy pilot mumbles something and mimics Arabic?
    – stackzebra
    Commented Sep 3, 2019 at 7:30
  • "*Unknown forces" - dailyscript.com/scripts/TopGun.html; "Unknown forces" - assets.scriptslug.com/live/pdf/scripts/top-gun-1986.pdf
    – Valorum
    Commented Oct 10, 2023 at 14:04

Audio commentary on the film's Special-Edition DVD release states that they were originally intended to be North Korean.

This source states that they were meant to be North Korean, but no information was actually included in the movie.

The movie takes place in 1986, while Russia was not an independent state yet, only the Soviet Union and other communistic states. Also, the MiG-28 is not a real plane, but an American Northrop F-5 painted black.

There is also no way to determine which countries used such planes in real life. However, a similar plane - MiG-29, which has been in production during 1986, was or still is, operated by about 30 countries.


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