Yes, the F-35 makes a very brief appearance. However, why wasn’t the F-35 the main fighter in Top Gun: Maverick? – Tom Cruise flies high in his latest film Top Gun: Maverick flew to a second big weekend and crossed the $500 million mark at the worldwide box office. The sequel to the 1986 blockbuster grossed an estimated $86 million domestically in its second weekend — down just 32% from its record-breaking Memorial Day holiday weekend opening.
In the film, Cruise – whose character is now teaching a young generation of avid pilots – could be seen in the cockpit of a US Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet. According Fortune magazinethe studio had paid up to $11,374 an hour to use the advanced fighter jets in the making of the film, but with the caveat that Cruise – an accomplished pilot in his own right – couldn’t actually touch the controls .
Pentagon regulations prohibit non-military personnel from monitoring Department of Defense (DoD) assets except small arms in training scenarios.
Why not the F-35?
The big question among aviation enthusiasts is why Pete “Maverick” Mitchell was in the cockpit of the Navy’s Boeing F/A-18 rather than the more advanced Lockheed Martin F-35C Lightning II. The simple answer is that the script called for the Super Hornet.
However, timing could be a factor.
The movie had been in development for yearsand a draft script was actually completed in 2012. However, Tony Scott, who directed the original Superior gun, sadly committed suicide the same year and as a result pre-production was put on hold. The script was reworked and production eventually moved forward, with principal photography taking place between May 2018 and April 2019. Additionally, scenes aboard the U.S. Navy ship Nimitz– USS class super aircraft carrier abraham lincoln (CVN-72) were shot down in August 2018.
At the time, the Navy only trained with the F-35.
Then there’s the fact that the F-35 is a single-seat aircraft, while the F/A-18 has a two-seat variant that could allow the actors to be filmed in the actual planes.
Additionally, there were several production delays and the film’s release was pushed back several times. Top Gun: Maverick Originally slated for release on July 12, 2019, but was delayed a year so some of the more complex action sequences could be completed.
Then the pandemic hit and Covid-19 saw many businesses – including cinemas – shut down. The film’s release has been pushed back as a result. Paramount first opted to move the release to December 2020 from a June opening, then opted to move it to Summer 2021. Conflicts and a busy release schedule cause it to be moved to May 2022.
So fans had to wait a little longer to see the movie, and in many ways, that was the wait.
If certain films – in particular the Warner Bros. sci-fi masterpiece Dunes – debuted at the box office as well as via streaming services, Paramount has taken another direction, producers say Top Gun: Maverick deserved and even needed the big-screen treatment for the full experience. The last James Bond movie no time to die faces a similar delaywhich had an impact on certain “product placements”.
However, the delay meant that the F-35 is only shown briefly in the film at the start on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier, Maverick was unable to fly it. Given that Cruise (and therefore Pete “Maverick” Mitchell) was in his 50s when the film was made, perhaps it makes sense that he wasn’t actually in command of this most advanced aircraft – and of course there are all the classified F-35 goodies he would be allowed to see or touch.
Again, the star Navy pilot could be seen piloting the Fictional hypersonic “Darkstar” in one sequence, as well as working on a P-51 Mustang at the start of the film. Although Cruise could not pilot the Darkstar, he is able to take the P-51 at any time – because it owns this particular aircraft.
Today’s editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites. He writes regularly on military hardware and is the author of several books on military headgear, including A gallery of military hairstyles, which is available on Amazon.com. Peter is also a Contributing author for Forbes.