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SOURCE: NAVY TIMES

“Negative Ghost Rider, the pattern is full …”

For years fans of the 1986 mega-hit “Top Gun” have debated on a sequel. Should the Air Force get a chance this time? Will the F-35 have a role?

Answers: 1.) Sorry, Air Force, probably not; and, 2.) No Lightning here, Tom Cruise’s teaser tweet showcased an F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.

Cruise is on Naval Air Station North Island right now, completing the first of two days of filming at the San Diego base for “Top Gun: Maverick.” It’s all Navy. The service has already completed a first review of an initial script draft and sent it back with requested revisions, DoD’s entertainment office confirmed (but would not reveal what those revisions were.)

Will Maverick face off against MiGs of unknown origin again over the Indian Ocean, or will he test the skies over the Spratlys in the South China Sea?

That depends on the final script, which the Pentagon has not yet approved.

“It’s been in discussions for years,” said David Evans, the documentary officer for the Pentagon’s entertainment media office. The military’s approval is key to getting needed support to film on its ships and bases.

After the Navy gives its final blessing, the Pentagon’s entertainment media office will look at it to ensure “DoD entities are represented factually,” and just as importantly, look to see “what level of [military] support they are looking for,” said DoD entertainment office spokesman Army Col. Paul Haverstick.

Basically, the Navy and Pentagon review how many aircraft, ships or ground assets Cruise will need in his scenes; then the office sees if Maverick’s plotline can fit into fighter squadron and ship training schedules.

Which means some lucky fighter squadron or squadrons are about to get quite the cameo role.

“It will depend on the training schedules,” Haverstick said.

The Pentagon does not profit from military-themed movie-making; “it’s a zero-sum basis,” Haverstick said. Instead, it uses the scenes, where possible, as training opportunities. All military equipment that is actually flown, sailed or driven in scenes ? whether it’s the Buffalos so rampant in “The Hurt Locker,” or the Black Hawks providing overhead fires in “12 Strong,” is manned by military personnel.

The support may go beyond that, too. For movie producer Jerry Bruckheimer’s “12 Strong” for example, the producer asked for DoD support in finding a place to film that resembled Afghanistan. The Pentagon offered White Sands Missile Range and kept personnel on site to assist with uniforms and jargon.