Lately, I watched the new movie Top Gun: Maverick. A few times Maverick made some impressive movements when he was getting hunted by another fighter jet. He somehow goes slightly up, brakes and gets behind the jet.

I tried to find a look-a-like image to show the movement. Here you can see a screenshot of the trailer on YouTube, which shows the movement of getting behind a fighter jet:

enter image description here

So I was wondering if it is really possible to get behind a fighter jet like this way?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ It is called Cobra Manoeuvre and can be performed for sure by some fighters (Saab Draken for example). $\endgroup$
    – sophit
    Commented Oct 9, 2022 at 18:19
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, it's the cobra. Many fighters can do it but among F-18s only one modified aircraft is capable (NASA F-18 High Alpha Research Vehicle (HARV)). $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 10, 2022 at 1:55
  • $\begingroup$ @user3528438 I think some kind of AoA protection prevents most fighters from being able to perform this manoeuvre. The diversion manoeuvre of the second fifth-gen fighter looks like a very tight Herbst manoeuvre instead (?) $\endgroup$
    – sophit
    Commented Oct 10, 2022 at 5:07
  • $\begingroup$ Similar to 'VIFFing' in the Harrier. Looks great, practically no combat application. $\endgroup$
    – Alan B
    Commented Oct 12, 2022 at 14:08

1 Answer 1


The "Cobra maneuver" is primarily an airshow stunt. To my knowledge it has never been performed or verified in actual combat.

  • $\begingroup$ At least not successfully, because it presents a huge target for the other plane’s guns. $\endgroup$
    – StephenS
    Commented Oct 10, 2022 at 15:53
  • $\begingroup$ @StephenS Assuming the other pilot even has guns. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 31, 2022 at 0:42

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .