NORFOLK, Va. — Filming of the highly anticipated sequel to 1986 hit "Top Gun" was halted last week after the entire fleet of CGI F-35s was grounded, sources confirm today.
"Top Gun: Maverick", which began filming in mid-August aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, stars Tom Cruise returning to his iconic role as U.S. Naval aviator Pete “Maverick” Mitchell. The film is rumored to center around F-35s going head-to-head against unmanned enemy drones.
The movie's director, Joe Kosinski, made the tough call to shut down filming while CGI experts could create a virtual Congressional oversight committee to raise digitized funds and lobby for a functional version of the troubled fighter jet in all 50 states.
"These things are nearly worthless," said Kosinski. “I tasked the tech guys with creating a computer-generated, highly versatile aircraft that would make for an effective war-fighting platform depiction. They modeled it on the real-life F-35s, and the result has been disastrous."
Kosinski was referring to two virtual incidents. The first occurred during a rehearsal run when a CGI F-35 malfunctioned on takeoff and crashed into a populated urban area theoretically killing 439 people.
The second mishap occurred shortly after filming began.
"Then, as soon as the cameras started rolling, one of the fictional CGI F-35s lost its thrusters and crashed into the ocean," Kosinski said. "There wasn’t really a splash, though. Anyway, we finally decided to make the tough call to ground the entire fleet of all of the non-existent aircraft."
Rumors of the F-35s' failures had circulated early during production. An anonymous source previously predicted that production would likely be suspended, citing financial difficulties, delays on getting the non-existent aircraft airborne, and aircraft maintainers identified as Dental Cat 3 for virtual deployment.
"This film is going to crash and burn," said Jerry Bruckheimer, who is producing the film. "We have wasted enough time and money on the CGI F-35s, and it would be insane to continue throwing good money after bad money."
The CGI F-35s — along with the movie itself — have been in development for nearly 17 years. Despite the money and man-hours devoted to getting the jets into the air, they continue to be plagued by glitches, malfunctions, and complete failures.
The studio is currently looking into whether they should change course and return to the more reliable and cost effective better-performing CGI F-14s, based on the model of aircraft that easily defeated the CGI F-35s in recent air-to-air combat tests.
"Top Gun: Maverick" is scheduled to be released in July 2019.