F-35 looks like it will play a major role in the upcoming “Top Gun” sequel after all, pairing up with Boeing’s (BA) F/A-18 Super Hornet in a Hollywood summer blockbuster showcasing the Navy’s fighter jets.
A squadron of F-35Cs, which are the Navy versions of the new stealth fighter, arrived in Jacksonville, Fla., Wednesday to participate in a training exercise with the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier through the end of the month, according to The Florida Times Union.
The mission of the VFA-101 “Grim Reapers” is to “train and qualify F-35C aircrew and maintenance professionals,” according to its website.
The F-35 training coincides with a Paramount Pictures film crew shooting on the USS Abraham Lincoln for “Top Gun: Maverick.” The Navy said the crew started filming on Sunday and will stay until Saturday.
Naval Air Force Atlantic spokesman Cmdr. Dave Hecht told the Virginian-Pilot that no actors were on deck and that the crew was capturing footage of air operations, including takeoffs and landings of the Super Hornet.
The Boeing jet was seen as the likely star of the movie after Tom Cruise, who played Maverick in the first “Top Gun” movie, tweeted a picture of himself in May standing in front of what appears to be a Super Hornet.
But after actor Glenn Powell landed a role in the “Top Gun” sequel earlier this month, he posted a picture of himself on Instagram standing in front of an F-35.
The F-35 in the post had a VX-9 designation on its side, meaning it’s part of the Navy’s Air Test and Evaluation Squadron at the Naval Air Weapons Station, China Lake, Calif.
However, those VX-9 F-35s are currently undergoing operational testing as part of at Edwards Air Force Base nearby in California.
Powell’s Instagram post has since been deleted.
The movie should deliver a public relations windfall for the F-35 and Super Hornet amid tough contract competitions abroad as well as the prospect of tighter budgets at home.