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Can someone explain in the latest movie why the US couldn't use its 5th/6th generation fighter?



In the movie it's hand-waved away with one line about GPS jamming making the F-35 unusable for the mission. It doesn't make any sense, but I was fine with it. It's not like the original was realistic.

As for why they didn't film with F-35s: others have already mentioned that the F-35's single seat makes it impossible to put actors in the cockpit. Other issues are that the F-35 has a lower thrust-to-weight ratio than the F-18, so maneuvers wouldn't look quite as cool. Also the F-35 costs much more to run per hour of flight time, and I'm guessing there are issues with having so many civilians and cameras around the latest generation fighter plane. The chance of some classified information leaking is high.

When the one pilot asked, "Why not use F-35s for the mission?", I would have been fine with Jon Hamm looking directly at the camera and saying, "Because this movie is better with F-18s." The choice of fighter plane doesn't really affect the plot. If anything, using older planes improved the movie by raising the stakes when they went up against the Su-57s.


> Other issues are that the F-35 has a lower thrust-to-weight ratio than the F-18, so maneuvers wouldn't look quite as cool.

The scenario setup in the movie at least made this detail seem important. It's plausible to me that the F-18's higher thrust-to-weight ratio could've been critical in the canyon scene while navigating tight turns.

Of course, that could be ballocks and the main limitation would be pilot response times, etc. Still it feels plausible.


> If anything, using older planes improved the movie by raising the stakes when they went up against the Su-57s.

Though it made that scene where the characters are in an outdated and badly maintained F-14 slightly less believable. Like in the briefings, going up against the Su-57 with F-18 was seen as a dubious proposition, so with the F-14, the only way they'd survive was with their super-power of being main characters in a modern movie.


It was a movie making decision. The flight scenes are not flown by the actors. Instead they are in the back seat while actual pilots fly them.

The f-35c is a single seater. The Navy isn't letting actors fly their jets. So the only choice is the super hornet.

The f-22 is an air force jet, not Navy. Top Gun is Navy. The f-22 is also single seat.


Isn’t the super hornet the more common navy jet anyways? Yes, the navy has a few F35s, but their bread and butter are F18 super hornets.


Yes more common.


I've not seen the new movie but Miramar transitioned from Naval Airstation Miramar to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar a couple (?) decades ago.

So now I wonder what they did in the movie.


Not sure if you mean why in the movie or why they couldn’t in real-life

in the movie, they bring up the mission requirements at low altitude render a certain tech of the new gen planes useless under the scenario because of its dependence on radar iirc

in real life the decision behind avoiding 5th is because most of the information about the planes are still highly classified, ie there is no full feature spec of 5th gen planes available, so no way united states military would let them film a plane


The reason cited in the movie is 5th gen being incapable in GPS-denied environments. Which is fiction.


Does F35 have a laser designator?


Yes [0] including a laser rangefinder

0: https://www.lockheedmartin.com/en-us/products/f-35-lightning...


It's because the majority of the movie is a death dream after Maverick screws the pooch with the SR-72.


The F-35C (Navy variant) has barely been deployed out to the fleet. I think only one squadron is using F-35s and they’re still working on training/integrating the platform into carrier operations. Didn’t Top Gun 2 get filmed 3-5 yrs ago? I don’t think any F-35s were operating with the Navy then. Another point is that dog fights and exciting maneuvering is dead in 21st century air-to-air combat. Planes are basically sniping each other from 40-60+ miles away with missiles. Not as exciting to watch.


I think partly this comes from the general perception of the F-35 program as a boondoggle and failure combined with the decades long production hell this film went through. Also the sponsorship from Lockheed Martin.

While it ultimately produced a capable plane, the Joint Strike Fighter spent 15 years as the next generation, failed to meet several critical goals, and still hasn't entered full production.

Better to stick to concept planes (SR-72), the plane from the first movie (F-14) and another common carrier plane (F-18).


Is the F-35 not in full production? There are already more F-35s than super hornets for example.


As of March 2022 it sounds like they are targeting mid-2023 to pass final testing, after which the plane would enter full production [0]. There's certainly many F-35s in service worldwide though.

[0]: https://breakingdefense.com/2022/03/full-rate-production-for...


That has literally nothing to do with it. What is the purpose of speculating here? It is because they needed a two seat aircraft for filming.


I'm no plane mechanic, but I'd wager it's because the producers probably didn't want their actors to die [1-5].

The fancy nextgen fighter programs, like most US "defense" spending, are noteworthy mainly for the staggering amounts of money we taxpayers shovel into arms dealers' pockets. Actually on second thought the enthusiasm with which we do that pocket-lining is also pretty impressive.

[1] https://www.navytimes.com/news/your-navy/2022/02/07/leaked-v...

[2] https://eurasiantimes.com/f-35c-stealth-fighter-jet-crashes-...

[3] https://www.f-16.net/aircraft-database/F-35/mishaps-and-acci...

[4] https://www.airforcetimes.com/news/your-air-force/2022/01/20...

[5] https://www.f-16.net/aircraft-database/F-22/mishaps-and-acci...


That actually seems like a pretty low accident rate compared to the F-14... in the 80s it seemed like there were a half dozen lost every year


Brand new aircraft has teething issues, or in the case of the F-22 issue found, issue fixed.


Or you know, swarm some drones in there ;)

But as you know, the Eagles could have flown the ring to Mordor, but it would have been a boring story.


But were the Eagles immune to the lure of the power inherent in the ring itself?

The whole plot hinges on that a hobbit was the most resilient against the corruption of the Ring. The Eagles were proud and powerful creatures. A ring-wraith Eagle would have been quite the setback to Gandalfs' plans.


The Nazgul had Fellbeasts which constitute a pretty formidable air defence capability, and they may well have had more than that.


6th gen fighters are still in development and aren't anywhere near ready for anything in a movie. The 5th gen planes are all single seaters and the Navy didn't want to risk the new shiny planes.


I can’t remember exactly but there was something about the target that rendered the F-35 and F-22 less than ideal? Plot device most likely.


Right now there are no active 6th generation fighters, and as many others have pointed out, the F-35 is a single seater. Then again, the actor wouldn't matter with the full face helmet the F-35 uses.


F35s are single seat, and Tom Cruise can't fly it (alone) for live-action shots.


6th gen is supposed to be pilotless and that obviates the need for actors.


I would guess it was to add suspense




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