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China’s Own ‘Top Gun’ – Born To Fly – Promoting J-20 Stealth Fighter Jets To Showcase PLAAF’s Might

China is going above and beyond to promote its J-20 stealth fighter jet by releasing its version of the Hollywood blockbuster Top Gun, primarily based on the life and work of the US naval fighter pilots.

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On August 13, a trailer for the Chinese military movie Born to Fly, which examines the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force’s modernization over the years, was posted online. 

The trailer, uploaded on YouTube by the “China Forces” channel, prominently features J-20, the nation’s fifth-generation fighter jet, flying high in the sky. 

The Global Times reports that in addition to J-20, the film will also tell the tale of how Chinese scientists, engineers, and military personnel collaborated to make ‘the domestic jet fighter a reality.’

Some of the most skilled filmmakers in China are making the movie. The film director Liu Xiaoshi is renowned for his vast experience creating promotional films for China’s armed forces. 

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Liu, a graduate of the Beijing Film Academy, has produced promotional videos for the Liaoning, China’s first aircraft carrier, and the Yun-20, also known as “Kunpeng,” a transport plane. 

Liu has also produced videos for the Pakistani and Egyptian air forces. The executive producer is a reputed writer and director, Han Han, and the main actors are Wang Yibo, Hu Jun, and Zhou Dongyu. 

Promotional material for the movie Born to Fly, a Chinese military film focusing on the modernization of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force over the past decades, will hit the big screen in 2022.

The movie will demonstrate the strength and speed of China’s latest fighter jets and explore the career and personal life of a test pilot serving as a PLA Air Force representative.

The J-20, J-16, and J-10C, among other modern fighter jets from China, will feature on a big screen.

However, in contrast to Top Gun, which did not feature the USA’s fifth-generation fighter jets, the upcoming Chinese film seems to primarily highlight the strength of the nation’s J-20 aircraft.

Will The Movie Include A Real J-20?

According to reports, a special operations team led by ace pilots receives a directive to complete a challenging flight mission in this drama. With their exceptional flying abilities, they continue to test the limits of the sky and their own.

Meanwhile, internet users were abuzz with speculation about whether a real J-20 would appear in the film. Few reports indicate that one J-20 prototype will be shown in the movie.

However, an online image of a mock J-20 front with a green screen background suggests that the J-20’s scenes in the movie would primarily be produced using computer graphics. 

This might represent a significant deviation from the Tom Cruise-starring Hollywood film, which included real military aircraft alongside computer graphics. 

A dummy of the front section of a J-20 fighter jet with a green screen in the background. – Twitter

Even so, the film promises to present a fantastic storyline of China’s development of a modern fighter jet. The film will be released before the end of 2022. According to the Global Times, “Born to Fly focuses on a special group, test pilots of the PLA Air Force.”

The film depicts the challenges faced by Chinese scientists and engineers as they attempt to keep up with current stealth jet research and development after their nation was subject to a technological embargo due “to the Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls (COCOM) and Wassenaar Arrangement.”

The film’s narrative centers on Wang’s character, Lei Yu, a pilot. Yu joins the new generation of test pilots after going through a complex and strict selection process along with other candidates. 

The pilots are allowed to test the most cutting-edge and latest stealth fighters under the direction of a character by the name of Captain Zhang Ting. But their limitations present a constant challenge, Global Times said. 

The tests Pilots are consistently tested on a physical and psychological level. Yu, for instance, has to practice in extreme cold and heat conditions in the movie.

The trailer of the movie Born to Fly, a Chinese military film focusing on the modernization of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force over the past decades, was released on August 13, 2022. Photo: Screenshot from the web

Besides that, China has also released films in this genre. In 2011, Beijing released Sky Fighters, a film about fighter pilots engaging in aerial conflict for their nation. The film was centered on the pilots of Air Division 903, a legendary Chinese air force unit that has produced “tens of generals” throughout its history.

However, many consider that film is an inferior remake of Top Gun. The launch date for ‘Born to Fly’ has not yet been made official. It’s worth recalling that China frequently publishes videos of its military hardware for propaganda and promotional purposes.  

In addition to demonstrating Beijing’s military might to foreign powers, such videos also aim to persuade young people to enlist in the military. Even in the US, following the release of Top Gun in 1986, there was a significant increase in Navy recruitment, indicating that many viewers were motivated to join the Navy!

Overall, questions still need to be answered, such as who the potential adversary is or what kind of aircraft the J-20 will encounter in the movie.

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