RAF bosses have apologised for wanting a 'preferably not white male' pilot to represent them at a Top Gun: Maverick press event.

An email, sent by the RAF's communication team, said it was looking for somebody who could be the 'face' of an event to launch the latest movie in the Top Gun sequel, starring movie star Tom Cruise.

The Ministry of Defence apologised for any offence caused and said the language 'should not have been used'.

The email, reported by the Express, read: 'Gents, do any of you have a pilot, who is preferably not white male who would like to be the RAF face at a press event for the release of Top Gun 2?

'Shy guys get no cakes so shout quick as offer also gone out to other units.'

The recipients of the message were advised to reply with their 'expressions of interest'.

The leaked email was criticised by Robert Oulds, the director of The Bruges Group thinktank who called the attitude 'divisive and dangerous'.

He added: 'The Armed Forces should be a band united to serve Queen and country. This seeks to segregate people and mark people out, not on the basis of their ability, but on the colour of their skin

'This is wrong and embarrassing. We need to stand firm and together.'

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: 'This language should not have been used and we apologise for any offence caused. We are determined to encourage more people, no matter their sex or race, into the RAF.'

Tom Cruise, the 59-year-old movie star, is reprising his role as LT Pete 'Maverick' Mitchell in the latest Top Gun sequel Top Gun: Maverick.

The original Top Gun film in 1986 was a blockbuster hit that put Cruise, then 24, on the map; his co-stars were Anthony Edwards, Meg Ryan, Kelly McGillis and Val Kilmer.

The latest sequel was supposed to come out years ago but the original director Tony Scott, who was set to direct the new installment, died by suicide in 2012 at the age of 68.

Top Gun: Maverick will hit the theatres on May 27, 2022 after being delayed from June 26, 2020, due to Covid. It was originally slated for release on July 12, 2019 but it was delayed so filmmakers could work out logistics with the complex flight scenes.

The original Top Gun was released to theaters on May 16, 1986. It became a huge hit, grossing over $356 million, with a budget of only $15 million, and was the highest grossing film of 1986.