Top Gun 3 Could Mean Tom Cruise Flies the F-35 Stealth Fighter

Top Gun 3

Top Gun 3 Could Mean Tom Cruise Flies the F-35 Stealth Fighter

"Top Gun III" looks very possible, with Tom Cruise expected to return as Pete "Maverick" Mitchell. Here are some thoughts on what we could expect. 


Summary: "Top Gun III" looks very possible, with Tom Cruise expected to return as Pete "Maverick" Mitchell. Here are some thoughts on what we could expect: 

Top Gun 3


Top Gun III: New Pilots, Drones, and Maverick's Heroic Return

Hollywood isn't out of ideas, even if it may seem very much like it at times. Rather, the movie industry doesn't like to take risks, as it knows audiences are often eager to return for more of the same. This summer will see Eddie Murphy heading back to Beverly Hills – almost forty years after "Beverly Hills Cop" first hit theaters – while we can also expect to see audiences turn out for "Joker 2," "Gladiator 2," "Deadpool 3, and "Bad Boys 4" as all are hitting the big screen and/or coming to a streaming service.

"Top Gun III" won't arrive this year, but it is very possible that it will get made, and that's not the least bit surprising.

Following the 2022 hit that was "Top Gun: Maverick," Tom Cruise looks likely to again suit up and climb into the cockpit as hotshot pilot Pete "Maverick" Mitchell, at least according to many reports.

As Cruise can still kick-you-know-what as Ethan Hunt in the "Mission Impossible" series, there was little reason to expect that his age would ground him – even if the U.S. Navy wouldn't likely allow a 60-something to take part in such combat operations.

Top Gun 3 What Do We Know: It's on Cruise Control!

There are no few details about "Top Gun 3," but we know it looks pretty likely to happen, and we can almost certainly expect Tom Cruise to be involved.

Here are the facts we know for sure: Tom Cruise loves making movies, Tom Cruise loves airplanes, and "Top Gun: Maverick" was one of the biggest films at the worldwide box office without even hitting theaters in China. It was also nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

However, as Cruise is getting long in the tooth, there is speculation that the sequel would focus on Miles Teller's character Lieutenant Bradley "Rooster" Bradshaw, and likely would include Glen Powell as Lieutenant Jake "Hangman" Seresin – possibly paving the way for a reboot of sorts, one that could replicate the friendly rivalry of Maverick and Val Kilmer's Tom "Iceman" Kazansky from the original 1986 film.

Instead of the F-14 "Tomcat," perhaps we'll finally see the stars in the cockpit of the F-35 Lightning II.


It is also possible that Cruise could remain on the ground while Teller and Bradshaw are in the air, but as Cruise is still running and gunning in "Mission Impossible," it would be almost impossible to think he'd want his character to sit on the sidelines. We also have to remember that voters are still sort of OK with two dinosaurs running for president this year – and forcing Maverick into retirement would be as challenging as getting some truly ancient Senators to retire.

Possible Plot for Top Gun III: Man Vs. Machine

The U.S. Navy's F/A-XX – the replacement for the F/A-18 Super Hornet – won't likely be in service at least until the end of the decade, it is possible that a fictionalized aircraft of the future could be a major part of the film.

Perhaps we'll see a man vs. machine plot that combines elements of "The Terminator" with the 1998 Kurt Russell film "Soldier." The latter tells the story of an aging soldier, who has been trained since birth only to be deemed obsolete and replaced by younger models. Trade out the soldier for pilot, and younger soldiers for drones, and the plot could come into focus quickly.

Hollywood loves a comeback story, and the "elevator pitch" practically writes itself; Maverick and team are called to help "train" unmanned aerial systems (UAS) to defend America's skies, only for terrorists or perhaps a rogue operative (borrowing elements from 1992's "Under Siege") to take control and threaten a U.S. city. Maverick, Rooster, and Hangman must suit up and fly into combat to save the day.

F-14 Tomcat

Ensuring that the torch is truly passed to another generation, in the film's climax Maverick makes the ultimate sacrifice – going down in a blaze of glory. Old pilots don't retire and they don't just fade away. Cue the end credits.

Let's see if Hollywood can do one better.

Author Experience and Expertise: Peter Suciu

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu. You can email the author: [email protected].

All images are Shutterstock.