The US Navy lent actor Tom Cruise F/A-18 Super Hornets for the new “Top Gun” movie. The only catches: The studio paid as much as $11,374 an hour to use the advanced fighter planes.

The “Mission Impossible” star insisted that all the actors portraying pilots on the long-delayed “Top Gun: Maverick” film fly in one of the fighter jets built by Boeing Co. so they could understand what it feels like to be a pilot operating under the strain of immense gravitational forces.

Also read: James Corden is Goose to Tom Cruise’s Maverick in ‘The Late Late Show’

Cruise, 59, had also flown in a jet for the original “Top Gun,” a hit in 1986.

According to Glen Roberts, the chief of the Pentagon’s entertainment media office, Cruise ended up flying more than a dozen sorties for the new movie, but a Pentagon regulation bars non-military personnel from controlling a Defence Department asset other than small arms in training scenarios.

Instead, the actors rode behind F/A-18 pilots after completing required training on how to eject from the plane in an emergency and how to survive at sea.

Also read: Hold my bike! Tom Cruise amazes fans in new ‘Mission Impossible 7’ trailer

Roberts said the Navy allowed the production to use planes, aircraft carriers and military bases even though he said the real Top Gun pilots aren’t the cocky rule-benders portrayed in the film, people who “would never exist in naval aviation.”

A movie “does not have to be a love letter to the military” to win Pentagon cooperation, Roberts said. But it does “need to uphold the integrity of the military.” Filmmakers need to have funding and distribution for their project and be willing to submit their script for military review. Although the Pentagon can request changes, Roberts said he wasn’t aware of any on “Top Gun: Maverick.”

Also read: Tom Cruise at Cannes on ‘Top Gun’ sequel: I make movies for the big screen

In his years working for the Pentagon’s media office, Roberts said that he had never seen the level of excitement generated around “Top Gun: Maverick.”

The movie is expected to earn Cruise his first $100 million domestic opening. It could generate about $130 million in U.S. and Canadian ticket sales over the weekend, not including the Memorial Day holiday, according to an estimate from Boxoffice Pro. That would make it one of the biggest movies of the past two years.

Also read: Tom Cruise’s ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ trailer out. Watch

Filmmakers reimburse the Pentagon for any aircraft unless they’re already being used in a previously scheduled training exercise or the flight can be counted toward the pilot’s required time at the controls.