The upcoming movie Top Gun: Maverick, which is a sequel to the 1986 American action drama Top Gun, will show Hollywood superstar Tom Cruise engaging in aerial dogfights with enemy jets — the fifth-generation Russian-built Sukhoi Su-57 stealth fighters.
The action-adventure film which is slated for a release later this year will see Cruise reprise his role as the US Navy’s daredevil pilot Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell, who with a history of being the service’s top aviators, will now train younger pilots.
While Cruise and director Joseph Kosinski have not officially revealed the make of the enemy fighter, the licensed Top Gun toys, and memorabilia under the Matchbox line of aircraft models from the movie offer some hints.
So far, the Matchbox line has indicated that the Top Gun franchise has the F-14 Tomcat, F/A-18 Super Hornet (considered the main fighter in the film), F-35B Joint Strike Fighter, and the SR-72 Darkstar.
According to Alex Hollings, who writes for the National Interest, the Top Gun Matchbox toy had striking similarities to Russia’s Su-57 stealth fighter.
Even the original Top Gun film never actually identified the nation to which the aircraft belonged to.
However, since the first film came out in the 1980s, the enemy jet was believed to be a Soviet Union-made fighter. There is speculation that the new film could also show a Russian fighter jet.
In the previous Top Gun film, Maverick (Cruise) flew the US F-14 Tomcat to square off with Soviet MiG-28 fighters, which were depicted as smaller and more maneuverable fighters. However, no such MiG-28 exists in the real world.
In that movie, Northrop Grumman’s F-5 fighter jets were shown as Russian MiG-28s.
A lot has changed since then, and with the breakthrough in CGI (computer-generated imagery) and film technologies of the 21st Century, filmmakers today have a lot of flexibility in terms of shooting.
The Russian Su-57 may have been used in the film as the ‘bad guy’ aircraft and with the technology at the disposal of the director the aircraft might look every bit as real as the actual Su-57.
The Su-57 is one of the two fifth-generation stealth fighters that currently exist outside the United States. The US has the F-35 Lightning II and the F-22 Raptor.
The other choice would have been the Chinese J-20 fighter. However, with the film already making changes to appease the audiences in China, the branding of Russian fighters as the enemy aircraft seemed more profitable.
The Russian single-seat, twin-engine Su-57 multirole aircraft is considered the most advanced fighters made in Russia to date and possesses supercruise, supermaneuverability, and advanced avionics to surpass the capabilities of the prior generation fighters.
These capabilities make it a more than good enough fighter to come up against the US Navy’s fighter jets in the film in order to make it look like a cinematic spectacle.
The Su-57 has been designed to destroy all types of air, ground, and naval targets. While the fighter jet took its maiden flight 10 years ago, it has still not entered service.
Despite having multiple problems, the Russian Su-57 can still give a tough competition to the American duo of F-35 Lightning II and F-22 Raptor in the future.