Photos Show F-14 Used In Top Gun 2 Production Snared In Carrier’s Crash Barricade

Just yesterday, we reported that the F-14 Tomcat used in the production of Top Gun 2, as well as Tom Cruise, were spotted aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt. Now, new photos have come to light showing that same aircraft entangled in the ship’s crash barricade. As we noted in our previous piece, this is the first time a Tomcat has been on the deck of an operational U.S. Navy carrier in years. In addition, we have also obtained more information on where this particular Tomcat, which is now dressed-up for the film with phoenix-like insignias, came from.

The fact that the F-14 is set up to appear as if it made an emergency landing into the ship’s barricade indicates that this is likely the culmination of a tense action sequence in the film. The barricade is a nylon net that is attached to the ship’s arresting gear system that ‘catches’ a stricken airplane that cannot, or has a very low probability of, ‘trapping’ normally aboard the ship by catching one its arresting wires. 

The ship’s barricade risers are erected on the USS Theodore Roosevelt during Top Gun 2 two production. , Source

The barricade is also used if an aircraft has only one shot at landing and there are no other divert airfields available that it can safely make it to. The usual alternative to a barricade engagement is an ejection, a dangerous affair that is even more perilous out in the open ocean and especially in bad weather conditions. An ejection also means the total loss of an aircraft, the airframe that may be packed with packed with sensitive technologies sinking to the ocean floor.  

You can read more about the barricade and watch other videos of it in action by checking out this past article of mine

It’s worth clarifying again that this aircraft is not flyable. There are no flyable Tomcats anywhere in the world outside of Iran. Getting one back in the air in the U.S. would be nearly impossible due to bureaucratic red tape and cost, among other factors. 

As for the origins of the Tomcat used in the production, the jet is F-14A #159631, the 178th Tomcat Grumman built, which has called the San Diego Air And Space Museum’s Gillespie Field Annex in El Cajon home for years.

F-14A #159631 at Gillespie Field in El Cajon, California. , San Diego Air And Space Museum

Multiple sources have told us the elements had taken their toll on the jet, which has sat outside for years. It was in need of restoration with certain components showing alarming signs of corrosion. Clearly, lending the plane to star in Top Gun 2 would give the beleaguered airframe stardom unlike any other Tomcat that calls a museum or gate guard position home. Lending the jet to be used in the movie would turn the F-14 in need of help into a top attraction and the production budget of the film clearly helped clean it up for shooting. 

With that in mind, the phoenix symbols now painted on its airframe sort of have a second meaning outside the movie’s plot. This retired plane was really given a second shot at life and will surely be treasured going forward.

We will continue to give you updates as Top Gun production aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt unfolds. Stay tuned!

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