[[quoteright:330:[[Film/TheLastStarfighter http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/The_Last_Starfighter.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:330:Careful -- that's [[{{Pun}} the last one.]]]]
More commonly called a [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starfighter Starfighter]], this is an absolutely ubiquitous trope in ScienceFiction (and especially SpaceOpera): A small, one-man CoolStarship equipped with FrickinLaserBeams and [[MacrossMissileMassacre Macross Missiles]], used by the AcePilot for {{Old School Dogfight}}ing.

A great many ScienceFiction protagonists are Space Fighter pilots.

Some Space Fighters have room for two (or, rarely, more) crew rather than a single pilot, but all are small and nimble, in contrast with larger [[CoolStarship Cool Starships]] such as TheMothership or TheBattlestar. Typically Space Fighters are dependent on a larger vessel, since they themselves lack the space for supplies or (often) a [[FasterThanLightTravel Faster Than Light Drive]]; however, there are exceptions.

[[TheBattlestar Battlestars]] will deploy Space Fighters against enemy {{Cool Starship}}s with an appropriate FighterLaunchingSequence. Fortunately for the AcePilot and his WingMan, large enemy ships will usually turn out to be PointDefenseless--at least as far as the protagonists' PlotArmor-equipped Space Fighters are concerned. Thus the enemy will need to scramble [[MookMobile Fighters of their own]]. An OldSchoolDogfight will ensue. Expect many a RedShirt Space Pilot to lose their life, thus underscoring just how risky TheHero's profession is, and making him or her seem all the more glamorous and heroic for it.

Quite often the Space Fighter will look just like a CoolPlane, because SpaceIsAir. At the very least, it's likely to have wings. This goes along with the use of the OldSchoolDogfight, and is largely RuleOfCool: Whether a Space Fighter has wings or not [[WingsDoNothing doesn't necessarily have any bearing]] on whether it will ever be shown operating in an atmosphere. If it ''can'' fight in the air as well as in space, it's also a SpacePlane.

Hard science fiction may instead employ more [[ISOStandardHumanSpaceship utilitarian-looking]] starfighters, with lots of engines and a completely un-aerodynamic shape. Some works may even opt for replacing Space Fighters with unmanned weapon systems controlled [[AttackDrone remotely or by AI]]--though in a setting involving BrainUploading and TheSingularity, the differences between a manned SpaceFighter and an AttackDrone could be very subtle.
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%%The Main Page is not a soapbox for justifying your opinion on whether or not starfighters are sensible science fiction. If you want to chip in your two cents, take it to the Analysis page.

As far as RealLife goes, [[TruthInTelevision actual designs]] for manned orbital spacecraft that could charitably be called space fighters [[http://www.astronautix.com/craft/spauiser.htm do exist]], and the Soviet Union even launched a SpaceStation (the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Almaz Almaz]] program) armed with a cannon similar to those used on atmospheric fighters as a test of the concept (they destroyed some defunct satellites).

See also HumongousMecha (some may even [[TransformingMecha turn into Space Fighters]]). Space Fighters are a major part of the StandardSciFiFleet, and a common form of the MookMobile. If you're interested in discussing factors affecting the feasibility of Space Fighters in different settings, check out the [[Analysis/SpaceFighter Analysis page]].

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!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* ''MobileSuitGundam'' and ''GundamSEED'' both had TheFederation using Space Fighters in combat before they developed their own [[HumongousMecha Mobile Suits]].
** These HumongousMecha are THE Space Fighters in the metaseries, just oddly shaped to account for the AMBAC (Active Mass Balance Auto-Control) system, which shifts the mass of hands and legs of the mecha to change the direction the mecha is facing to save propellant and shift the centre of mass away from the main body for evasive action.
** ''GundamSEED'''s Moebius fighter is actually one of the more realistic designs out there for a space fighter. They were completely armored, with the pilots seeing everything over monitors, and their main weapon was a long range linear cannon, with four missiles as backup and twin [[GatlingGood Gatling guns]] for emergency usage only. They didn't have wings and their engines were movable. Ironically, before developing their Mobile Suits, ZAFT also had space fighters that had glass cockpits and wings, and these are noted in the fluff to have stood no chance in fighting a Moebius.
* The Angel Frames from ''Anime/GalaxyAngel''.
* The [[TransformingMecha Valkyries]] from the ''[[Anime/SuperDimensionFortressMacross Macross]]'' series. Notable for one of the first anime example that was also armed with [[MacrossMissileMassacre missiles]] instead of just [[OldSchoolDogfight guns]]. Them looking like modern aircraft is also justified: they are meant to fly in both space ''and'' atmosphere, and the latter requires a certain shape.
* Omnipresent in ''StarBlazers / SpaceBattleshipYamato.'' The Argo/Yamato doubled as a [[TheBattlestar carrier]], after all.
** The 2010 LiveActionAdaptation added the twist that the fighters were used to gather targeting information for capital ships and their heavy guns.
* ''LegendOfTheGalacticHeroes'' has Space Fighters, although the action mostly focuses on large fleets of battleships. They are decidedly non-planelike.
* The fifteen subunits making up [[Anime/DairuggerXV Dairugger]] (AKA: vehicle-team {{Voltron}}) were all supposed to be able to act as space fighters. The other, non-combining space fighters that appeared were usually just cannon fodder.
* The Autobots and Decepticons in ''TransformersArmada'' both use Space Fighters when they join forces to battle Unicron.
* Spike's Swordfish II from ''Anime/CowboyBebop''.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
* ''Film/TheFifthElement'': Space fighters make a brief appearance, shooting down the friendly alien ship carrying the MacGuffinGirl protagonist.
* ''Film/TheLastStarfighter'': The Gunstars and Ko-Dan fighters.
* ''StarWars'': The TropeCodifier that influenced all subsequent designs to one extent or another. The basic designs of the most famous ''Star Wars'' fighters are instantly recognizable to anyone with even a passing knowledge of pop culture. In the original 1977 ''[[ANewHope Star Wars]]'', [[DavidVersusGoliath small one-man fighters are famously used]] to attack the [[ThatsNoMoon gigantic]], [[EarthShatteringKaboom planet-destroying]] Death Star because they are small and [[OldSchoolDogfight manoeuvrable]], and can [[PointDefenceless evade the Death Star's defensive fire]] where [[StandardSciFiFleet larger ships]]--which are [[BiggerIsBetter the only threat the evil Empire considered]] when designing the defenses of their [[BiggerIsBetter gigantic]] battle-station--would have been blown apart.
** In ''StarWars'', fighters without faster-than-light drives are the exception, rather than the rule; they are usually either old designs predating the days of easy travel, made explicitly to ''not'' be autonomous--like the Empire's TIE Fighters, or too small/light to carry the equipment (the Jedi Starfighters of the second and third prequels).
* ''[[LostInSpace Lost In Space (1998)]]'' played with the conventions of this trope, featuring several space fighter designs; the enemy raiders flew rather bulky, jet fighter-styled bombers, while Major West and his crewmate flew in bubble cockpits with gyroscopic seats, asymmetric, unfixed single wings and a main engine plus orientation thrusters that only fired when maneuvering. However, both followed Star Wars' example of ships banking like planes while still dogfighting on a completely [[TwoDSpace three-dimensional plane]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* Creator/CJCherryh's ''Hellburner'', part of the Literature/AllianceUnion series, centres on a moderately realistic SpaceFighter--the titular Hellburner. Being essentially a carrier launched missile-firing-missile it is exceptionally difficult and physically punishing to fly. Being such a pure chunk of engines and guns it is a mortal threat to starships. In the novel, human intelligence right at the controls justifies the performance penalty of a living pilot.\\
\\
The Hellburner is interesting in that it has a minimum of ''four'' people operating it: a pilot, a navigator, a gunner, and a fourth person who analyzes all of the ship's sensor data in order to figure out what the gunner should be shooting at. In operational trim, the fourth bod's data is pre-filtered by another thirty people, to avoid the problems caused by depending on lightspeed-limited radar when operating at a significant fraction of lightspeed. A big part of tactical success is outguessing the other guy on fragmentary and outdated sensor data.
* Creator/AlanDeanFoster's ''HumanxCommonwealth'' series. The Commonwealth has stingships, two-person attack ships each carrying a single SCCAM missile.
* Creator/DavidWeber includes starfighters in both his ''Starfire'' series and ''[[Literature/PrinceRoger Empire of Man]]'' series, though in the later series (co-written with Creator/JohnRingo) they're not important to the first three books.
** The closest thing to starfighters in his ''Literature/HonorHarrington'' series are Light Attack Craft, or [=LACs=] for short. David Weber has gone to some length to explain that they are ''not'' actually fighters, but rather old school torpedo boats [[RecycledInSpace in space]]. They are VERY large by Space Fighter standards and require a minimum crew of ten, with most early examples being relegated to CannonFodder status. After ship-killer "Super" [=LACs=] carrying battlecruiser-grade grasers are introduced, "anti-LAC" [=LACs=] begin appearing, but they are still too big, too clunky, have too large a crew and are nowhere near manouverable enough to be true Space Fighters. However, when explaining the usefulness of the new LAC carriers, Honor does draw the parallel to the 20th-century Earth and the impact of aircraft carriers on naval warfare, especially since the new [=LACs=] have spinal-mounted weapons, meaning they have to face the enemy to fire.
* The protagonist of ''Tomorrow War'' is a [[InsistentTerminology flugger]] pilot. The setting is rather [[MohsScaleOfSciFiHardness hard]], so they engage each other at a long range (no {{Old School Dogfight}}ing) and attack big ships that aren't crippled only at several megameters, with missiles. Oh, and pilots have to improve their acceleration tolerance by eating an [[ImportedAlienPhlebotinum alien]] [[SuperSerum biostimulant]].
* The Franchise/StarWarsExpandedUniverse introduces dozens of new space fighters, though they're called starfighters or snubfighters most of the time. And, most of the time, fighters introduced outside of the movies see very limited use, mostly due to SmallReferencePools . One series [[ComicBook/XWingSeries is all about X-Wing pilots]] flying under an AscendedExtra.
** In the NewJediOrder series, the coralskipper is the ubiquitous fighter flown by [[ScaryDogmaticAliens Yuuzhan Vong]] pilots. It's so-called because it's actually grown from a kind of coral, though apparently the name loses a great deal of menace in translation from the Yuuzhan Vong language(Yorik-Et). But the skipper is very formidable its plasma cannons rip through shields and steel, and its engine can also suck up blaster fire with a mini black hole.
* ''Literature/LegacyOfTheAldenata'' has the Space Falcon, developed to supplement the makeshift frigates guarding the solar system. It's explicitly stated that they are ''not'' capable of operating in an atmosphere.
* There are nominally fighters in ''TheForeverWar'', but they're the size of gunboats (normally crewed by 3 people, but can take up to 12, they need to be that size to fit in all the support equipment for the crew when manoeuvring at 25 G), and end up getting treated more like shuttles (Drones can move at 100s of Gs, and are smaller).
* ''Literature/{{Animorphs}}'' has several. The Yeerks use Bug Fighters, which look like mechanical insects. They were stolen from a similar Andalite ship, the main difference being the position of the "tail" that contains the dracon or shredder cannon.
* The ''Literature/StarCarrier'' series has the SG-92 Starhawk and Turusch [[NicknamingTheEnemy "Toad"]]. Starhawks have variable hull geometry (nanotech is involved) that allows them to reconfigure themselves between several forms: a slim needle for launch and space combat, an airfoil for atmospheric flight, and a sperm-like teardrop for crossing distances at near-''c''. They're armed with kiloton-yield nuclear missiles, Gatling railguns, and a particle beam. Toads are armed similarly but are more massive, less maneuverable, and lack the variable geometry which makes them crap for air combat.
** All ships in this 'verse use [[ReactionlessDrive gravitic propulsion]] involving projecting a [[AllConsumingBlackHole singularity]] in front of the ship, "winking" it out, then projecting it a little farther as the ship is constantly falling into it. By doing that billions of times per second, Starhawks can quickly accelerate to a high percentage of the speed of light in about 10 minutes. Since the pull of the singularity is roughly the same on the entire craft, neither the pilots nor their fighters experience any of the 50000 or so g-forces (no InertialDampening necessary). Turning is done by projecting the singularity to the side and letting the fighter simply move along the curved space/time (i.e. the fighter is not changing its local directional vector; it's the space itself warping around it). Once again, no g-forces, but a fighter that gets too close to its own singularity can be spaghettified by it. In a later book, a fighter pilot learns to use the singularity projector as a weapon by getting to "knife-fighting" range and projecting a singularity inside a capital ship, then leaving without "winking" it out.
* In ''Literature/TheFlightEngineer'', there are Speeds and [=WACCIs=]. Speeds are fast, agile ships armed with a pair of mass drivers that fire molten copper particles, while [=WACCIs=] are stealth recon ships with a single mass driver for defense.
* Averted in ''TheLostFleet'' novels. Due to the mass/thruster ratio, fighters are simply no match for larger warships (i.e. they can't maneuver as atmospheric fighters), and any computer targetting system capable of hitting anything while traveling at 10% of the speed of light can definitely track a small fighter. Fast Attack Craft (or Short-Range Attack Craft, as they were known in Geary's time) are capable of space and atmospheric flight, which is why they are normally used near planets or space stations. Corvettes get slightly more use by the Syndics, especially the so-called Hunter-Killers, which are a cross between a corvette and a destroyer. "Nickel" corvettes are used to patrol systems far from any border, as they're virtually useless.
* Numerous types of fighters (usually, of the aerospace variety) are present in Creator/AndreyLivadny ''TheHistoryOfTheGalaxy'' series. One novel is focused on a new [[TheFederation Confederated]] military doctrine for protecting its Border worlds (the StandardSciFiFleet is relegated to protecting the Core colonies). This involves a series of planetary bases and a new class of fighter-carrying cruisers (Russian sci-fi writers, as a rule, hate the word "carrier") that act as mobile bases for a new modular type of fighter. These fighters are powered by a special AntiMatter reactor that uses anti-tritium for its supposed ability to only react to tritium and no other normal matter. It's also equipped with a DeflectorShield of sorts, based on [[StarfishAliens Logrian]] Veil gravity generators that bend light around it in a continuous loop to create a light-based shield. The "modular" part comes from the ship being able to be refitted for a different role in about an hour with proper facilities by simply swapping out equipment packages. It can be a space superiority fighter, a fighter/bomber, or a long-range FTL strike craft.
* Numerous types of fighters in Iar Elterrus' multiverse, the shared setting of the Order of Aarn novels and Mad Bards novels. Notable types are
** "White Bird" of the Order of Aarn. As all Aarn spaceships, these are living organisms with integrated modules and armaments. They can be equipped with FTL drives and can carry a passenger, but can only be piloted by those with the Born Pilot power.
** "Phoca" of the Farsen Federation. Built after the Farsenians found a cache of technology left behind by the Ker'Eb Vr'an [[spoiler: a fraction of AdvancedAncientHumans]]. As all Ker'Eb Vr'an technology, these consist of a tiny material core (the Phoca core is small enough to be worn as a necklace), which upon activation encapsulates the pilot in the actual spaceship consisting of various force-fields.
* Subverted in Creator/PaulNaughton's LightNovel/VALKYRIEIntoTheHeavens series. The series protagonists are 'pod pilots' who operate starships through a set of [[Main/BrainComputerInterface neural interfaces]]. It sounds at first glance to be a story about starfighter pilots, until you realize that each ship they're piloting weighs over 300 tons, is about the size of a commercial frigate, and classed as a frigate by the navy.
* In John Robert Maddox's ''Space Angel'' the titular spacecraft is a tramp freighter and the story takes place some years after a devastating war. Her (female) captain and one of the crew had been pilot and gunner in a class of small scout/fighter craft which had been deployed (and expended) in vast numbers during that war. This was revealed when the new quartermaster wondered aloud why the captain kept the hard-drinking man on as part of her crew.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''Series/{{Andromeda}}'' had the infamous Slipfighters from Archlike to Cerberus, all of which could operate in an atmosphere and could carry [[EarthShatteringKaboom Nova bombs]] in addition to their array of seemingly overpowered conventional weaponry. Nietzschean Garuda-class fighters were also OP, being able to destroy High Guard and other Commonwealth capital ships and warships with ease and in small packs.
** This could actually be one of the few cases where fighters would make sense, as Slipfighters are capable of traveling FTL and Slipstream drive has quite a few limitations. Namely that it doesn't allow FTLRadio, is confined to certain [[HyperspaceLanes paths]], and can't be navigated by AIs. Those factors make fighters invaluable as scouts and raiders.
* ''Series/BabylonFive'': Included the starfuries, a comparatively [[MohsScaleOfScienceFictionHardness hard]] example.
** So hard, in fact, that apparently there was at one point some serious interest from NASA in actually building one, albeit more as a space forklift/tug than a space fighter. JMS agreed, on the condition that they retain the name "Starfury". However given the lack of activity it seems that project has been shelved.
** There were several variants of the starfury depicted: The standard single-seat Aurora starfury, a once-seen heavy starfury with a tail gunner's seat (called Muskrat by the production but mistaken by many fans for the designed but never shown Badger starfury), and the Thunderbolt starfury, with two pilots sitting in tandem, an elongated fuselage, and folding wings to allow it to operate in atmosphere as a bomber. Additionally, there was also the "flying forklift", which only had one wing with two thrusters (instead of two wings with four), manipulator arms instead of guns, and a bright yellow paintjob in the style of a piece of construction equipment (which it was).
* ''Series/{{Battlestar Galactica|Reimagined}}'': Both the [[Series/BattlestarGalacticaClassic original]] and new series were largely built around the Vipers.
** Fun fact: the pilot nickname for the F-16 Fighting Falcon in the US Air Force is the Viper, what with the F-16 entering service the same year that BSG was aired. If the design of the Viper Mk. VII from the new series is anything to go by[[note]]In particular, the belly engine scoop[[/note]], that fact has come full circle.
* ''Series/BuckRogersInTheTwentyFifthCentury'' used rejected models from ''Battlestar Galactica''.
* ''Series/{{Farscape}}'' has Peacekeeper Prowlers.
* In ''Series/{{Firefly}}'', Alliance ships carry squadrons of "gunships" which are for all intents and purposes space fighters. Gunships are deployed by Alliance ships to pursue smaller, lighter craft that the cruiser itself cannot pursue, as the bigger ship is much slower--essentially a carrier/city in space.
** According to the RPG, the gunship (officially ASREV, for Alliance Short Range Enforcement Vessel) differs from the ''Star Wars'' model in a couple of respects. Instead of being basically a fighter jet in space, it is about the same size as a regional passenger jet at 83 feet long and 48 feet wide. Gunships carry a crew of four and are also used as the interplanetary equivalent of police squad cars.
* ''SpaceAboveAndBeyond'' had star fighters used by both the Humans and the Chigs. The human fighters (the Hammerheads), carried missiles and mounted gun turrets in the chin and tail, while the Chig fighters used some sort of energy cannon.
** The Chigs' SuperPrototype, a fast stealth fighter that was nigh invulnerable to the Hammerheads' weapons fire, flown by [[RedBaron Chiggy Von Richtoffen]]. After three different squadrons tried and failed to take him down, the prototype was finally destroyed in a one-on-one fight with [[HandicappedBadass Colonel McQueen.]]
* In ''Series/StargateAtlantis'' there are the Wraith Darts, that fit the role perfectly. They are commonly used in capturing victims for the Wraith, and shoot down any flying targets.
** The Puddle Jumpers could also act in this manner, although that is not their primary purpose.
* ''Series/StargateSG1'': Notable in that the [[ScaryDogmaticAliens villains]] have space fighters from the very start, but the good guys have to develop theirs slowly, over several seasons. But, as with all Goa'uld technology, their [[NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast Death Gliders]] were [[CoolButInefficient more impressive than practical]]. They were mostly used for strafing ground targets, but were frequently shown fighting in space as the show went on and started featuring more {{Space Battle}}s.
** We see the first [[HumansByAnyOtherName Tau'ri]] attempt to build a SpaceFighter in Season 4. It is built using [[ImportedAlienPhlebotinum two damaged Goa'uld Death Gliders]] that were stolen ''[[ContinuityNod at the beginning of Season 2]]'', and that were [[ContinuityNod also shown]] getting worked on in a lab in an earlier episode. This prototype fails spectacularly. It's not until Season 6 that a successful prototype SpaceFighter is fielded by Stargate Command, and it's not until Season 7 that the production model gets built, and sees actual combat for the first time.
*** Though if you consider it, that's only five years between initial capture of the technology and fielding a practical unit. Five years in which they have to reverse-engineer advanced technology and re-creating it with human tech. Not half bad for an R&D project of that magnitude.
*** It also constituted a nice change of pace from FailureIsTheOnlyOption and StatusQuoIsGod, since the SGC's mission was to find alien technology to bring back to Earth to help build weapons against the Goa'uld.
*** The X-301 prototype failure in Season 4 occurred because the engineers left too much of the original Death Gliders' technology in the fighter, including, as it turned out, a recall device installed on [[BigBad Apophis]]' orders after Teal'c's defection. In the later seasons, they figured out how to reverse-engineer more of this technology, finally allowing for the creation of a fully human-built fighter, instead of a hybrid of human and BlackBox alien technology.
* ''Franchise/StarTrek'': Largely avoided Space Fighters in favour of [[StandardSciFiFleet larger ships]], but they did show up on some rare occasions, mostly in ''[[Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine Deep Space Nine]]''. The [[YourTerroristsAreOurFreedomFighters Maquis]] used small ships somewhat similar to Space Fighters, and some rarely-seen old Bajoran ships fit the bill. The Dominion had ships called fighters, but these were really small warships, and had enough space for a full-sized crew. Usually, it seemed large ships in ''Franchise/StarTrek'' had weapons both accurate and powerful enough to easily take out fighters, no matter how small and manoeuvrable (which would [[FridgeLogic certainly explain]] why they're rarely seen).
** Maquis fighters were shown to have a crew of 4, except in the pilot of Voyager where one inexplicably has a crew of about 20.
** In some of the later episodes of ''[[Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine Deep Space Nine]]'', the unimaginatively named "Federation Fighters" could occasionally be seen. These fully fit the trope. In one episode, we see squadrons of them zipping in and out, harassing Cardassian warships. We see that while the fighters are very fast and nimble, they only take one or two shots from a starship's beam weapons to get swatted. [[http://www.cygnus-x1.net/links/lcars/blueprints/web/peregrine-attack-fighter-sheet-4.jpg These fighters]] themselves appear to be considerably bigger than a shuttle even so.
** All incarnations of Star Trek featured small shuttle-craft, and these were usually armed, but almost ''never'' filled the role of a Space Fighter (with the Delta Flyer in ''[[Series/StarTrekVoyager Voyager]]'' occasionally being an exception).
** Despite the rarity of Space Fighters, ''Franchise/StarTrek'' ''did'' eventually feature {{Old School Dogfight}}s, especially during some of the battle scenes of the [[Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine Dominion War]]: abandoning their previous SpaceIsAnOcean [[StandardStarshipScuffle analogies]], they showed their ''starships'' [[SpaceIsAir maneuvering like space fighters]]. (The ''Defiant'' gets something of a bye for being tiny by Franchise/StarTrek standards... But still.)
** "The Best of Both Worlds" did feature a wave of fighters sent to take on the Borg Cube... [[CurbStompBattle that lasted for all of about 3 seconds.]]
*** Those same fighters were also flown by an acrobatics group Wesley Crusher was a part of.
** In the StarTrekNovelVerse, Starfleet finally gets around to creating advanced space fighters dedicated to combat in the aftermath of the [[StarTrekDestiny Borg Invasion]]. They're introduced in the later half of the StarTrekVoyagerRelaunch.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Pinball]]
* Used by both sides in Creator/WilliamsElectronics' ''Pinball/StellarWars''
* Both ''Pinball/{{Firepower}}'' and ''Pinball/FirepowerII'' have Space Fighters for the defending human forces.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* ''{{GURPS}}: Spaceships'' has a supplement that covers fighters. The examples culminate in the Mirage Star Fighter which is loaded with [[AppliedPhlebotinum superscience]] to the point that it is actually built mostly of [[ReinforceField force fields]].
* ''{{Traveller}}'' had a variety of small fighter ships.
* Task Force Games: ''Star Fleet Battles'', ''Federation and Empire'' and ''Starfire''.
* The ''TabletopGame/{{Paranoia}}'' adventure "Clones in Space" had [[IncrediblyLamePun Pie Fighters]] (a ShoutOut to ''StarWars'' TIE Fighters).
* ''Battlelords of the 23rd Century''.
* ''{{Battletech}}'' has Aerospace Fighters, which are every bit as well-armed and armored as the setting's HumongousMecha (in some cases even [[TransformingMecha mechs themselves]] can qualify for this trope). FASA even created a specialist game, ''Aerotech'', for those who wanted to play the transatmospheric battles between fighters and {{Drop Ship}}s that preceded the land battles of the main game. (The modern edition of ''BattleTech'' puts basic aerospace combat into its core rulebook, with more 'advanced' options--such as the alternative movement rules mentioned below or the use of unit types beyond just fighters, small craft, and [=DropShips=]--handled in subsequent volumes.)
** The interesting thing about ''[=AeroTech=]'' is that it also allowed you to actually choose whether you wanted to play OldSchoolDogfight straight or avert it altogether by using the advanced movement rules for space-based combat.
** The "cool plane" designs are justified as the Aerospace fighters of the setting are intended to operate [[SpacePlane in or out of atmosphere]].
* Iron Crown Enterprise's ''Space Master''.
* In ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'', space-based fighter and bomber craft are more like gunboats, with crews of between four and sixteen depending on pattern and enough armament to level cities; necessary when the starships are at least a half-kilometer long and frequently plated in 80-100 meters of solid armor.
** Most aircraft, called Aeronautica, are capable of short periods of space travel, but lack the armor and engine power to mix it up with true spacecraft. It's more intended to allow them to launch from a spacecraft, conduct a mission against a planetary target, and return to the ship.
* ''{{Rifts}}'' SpaceOpera ''Phase World/Three Galaxies'' setting features a number of Fighters.
* A few ships in ''{{Spelljammer}}'' could qualify, but the standout example is probably the Locust from [[ForgottenRealms Toril.]]
* For a true, but now lost to time, Hard SF starfighter game, there was Marc Miller's ''Triplanetary'' originally published by Game Designer's Workshop and now in SJ Games' hands. One of its primary features was hex-mapped based vectored movement system.
* ''FullThrust'' has rules for space fighters, although the mechanics have received a lot of complaints due to balance issues--the pre-designed fleets have serious PointDefenseless issues, to the point where dedicated carrier fleets easily dominate against everything else.
* ''StarfleetBattles'' uses fighters extensively, despite there being none in the source materials. They primarily function to saturate enemy defenses and kill ships by simply being too numerous to stop. The result varies with the fighters and the target. Particularly effective are Hydran fighters (which are deployed on most Hydran ships) which were described in one tactical analysis as being like "roving nuclear spacemines". Two of them at point blank range will leave a cruiser a gutted wreck.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* {{Simulation Game}}s set in space very, ''very'' frequently cast the player in the role of a Space Fighter pilot. Space fighter simulations are a genre of their own, and a fairly well-populated one.
** ''{{Elite}}'', from 1984, was perhaps the earliest example of this type of game, and one of the earliest home computer games to feature 3-D graphics. In this WideOpenSandbox, the player starts with a lightly-armed trader, and can (amongst other things) make enough money to outfit a proper SpaceFighter for engaging [[AlwaysChaoticEvil Thargoids]] and SpacePirates in an OldSchoolDogfight. The game is named after the highest rank the player can reach in [[AcePilot combat proficiency]].
*** ''{{Oolite}}'' is a modern open-source remake.
** The ''VideoGame/WingCommander'' series is all about starfighter combat, with some of the fighters also being [[SpacePlane atmospheric capable]]. The first game came out in 1990, and heavily influenced how the genre developed.
** ''VideoGame/XWing'' is a classic from the early [[TheNineties 90s]], set in the ''Franchise/StarWars'' universe. It was later followed by the popular ''VideoGame/TIEFighter'', ''VideoGame/XWingVsTIEFighter'' and ''VideoGame/XWingAlliance''.
*** The ''X-Wing'' series of games made the names of Rebel and Imperial craft popularly known among gamers, even those who were not interested in the [[Franchise/StarWarsExpandedUniverse Expanded Universe]] details.
** ''{{Descent}}'' was another important example, from the mid-90s.
** ''{{Freespace}}'' has you flying fighters in the StandardSciFiSetting. ''Freespace 2'', the still-quite-popular sequel, has an involving storyline, and received numerous awards.
* Early examples can be found in ''SpaceWar'' and ''{{Asteroids}}'', though the "ships" involved are simple icons.
* ShootEmUps depend on space fighters as much as, or more than, they do conventional fighter planes. Famous examples include:
** The Vic Viper of the ''{{Gradius}}'' series
** The R-9 Arrowhead of the ''VideoGame/RType'' series, along with a hundred others in ''R-Type FINAL'' and ''R-Type Tactics 1'' and ''2''.
** The Arwings of the ''VideoGame/StarFox'' series
** The Fire LEO and RVR series of fighters in the ''VideoGame/ThunderForce'' series
** [[ZeroWing Take off every "zig!"]]
* ''Franchise/StarCraft's'' Terrans used Wraiths. By extension, Scouts and Corsairs from the Protoss.
** The Terran Vikings and Protoss Phoenixes from ''VideoGame/StarCraftII'' replace Wraiths and Scouts in the fighter category. One of the scrapped Terran ships was the Predator, a fighter with a point defense system.
** The Scouts even look like they're [[SpacePlane more of a plane than starfighter]].
** The Zerg have the Scourge, Mutalisk, Guardian, and Devourer as LivingShip equivalents to cruise missiles, fighters, bombers, and gunboats, respectively.
* ''{{Halo}}'': The Seraphs and Longswords. Rarely seen on camera but in the {{novelization}}s they are threats to be reckoned with. ''[[HaloReach Reach]]'' introduces the Sabre, and ''Halo 4'' gives us the Broadsword.
* ''GratuitousSpaceBattles'': A strong fighter fleet can be a game-winner. Each fighter only has handful of slots and a tiny powerplant, often having to do without shields or armour. However, you can have ''lots'' of them: even mighty battleships can be worn down by a [[DeathOfAThousandCuts ravening horde of fighters]].
* In ''EVEOnline'', Fighters and Fighter-Bombers can be launched by Carriers and Motherships. Unlike other ships, they're too small to fit the capsule system, so they can't be piloted by players. Instead, they're piloted by [[RedShirt expendable]] [=NPCs=], and functionally behave similar to the {{Attack Drone}}s other ships have.
* ''VideoGame/MasterOfOrion II'' has Interceptors[=/=]Bombers[=/=]Heavy Fighters carried by ships and planetary bases.
* In ''Franchise/MassEffect'', though rarely seen, they do exist, albeit mostly as support craft to keep enemy fire away from larger Frigates, Cruisers and Dreadnoughts. Their main job in combat is to ZergRush enemy ships, cause the point-defense lasers to overheat, and deliver torpedoes to weaken kinetic barriers so bigger ships can use their mass accelerators to take down opposing vessels.
** That being said, their original use was somewhat limited until it was revolutionised by the Alliance who introduced the concept of a Carrier to the Galaxy, allowing for large squadrons of their to be launched at once. The Alliance also appears to have pioneered the use of Interceptors in order to counter-attack enemy dogfighters, [[DivideAndConquer leaving their Fighter Squadrons free]] to bring down enemy ships.
** They are finally featured in all their glory in ''VideoGame/MassEffect3''.
* ''StarControl'' focuses on larger ships, and the smallest of the ships encountered in either the game or its sequel wouldn't really count as a fighter. However, the Ur-Quan Dreadnought, one of the deadliest ships in either game, is a [[TheBattlestar Battlestar]] (it even looks like [[Series/BattlestarGalacticaClassic the original one]]!) that launches small autonomous fighters as its secondary attack. Though they're only a few pixels in size, the way these fighters work in the game makes quite a bit of sense: They deplete the Dreadnought's crew, they have limited fuel and must head back to the Dreadnought after a brief sortie, and they carry only a weak weapon and can be destroyed with a single hit. However, they are able to outmanoeuvre most opponents and so [[DeathOfAThousandCuts pick apart large ships little by little]]... ''Except'' for the ships that are ''not'' PointDefenseless. An [=AI=]-controlled Dreadnought [[ArtificialBrilliance won't even bother launching fighters]] against an opponent with point-defence systems.
** [[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: "Launch Fighters! Launch Fighters! [[Zerg Rush La-La-La-La-La-La-La-La-Launch Fighters! ]]
"]]
* ''VideoGame/{{Homeworld}}'' features multiple types of "strikecraft" which fulfilled various duties--scouting, defense, interception, and bombing. They can somewhat be used out of their roles with creativity, but the sequel ''Homeworld 2'' intensifies the presence of TacticalRockPaperScissors.
** The semi-canonical sequel ''Homeworld: Cataclysm'' features the ''Acolyte''-class heavy fighter used exclusively by Kith Somtaaw, based on Bentusi design. They are highly versatile and can fulfill multiple roles (armed with standard mass drivers but could also fire missiles). Additionally, two Acolytes can combine into a single ''Avenger''-class composed vehicle (a corvette), which can bring down much larger ships with its EMP generator.
** ''Homeworld'' and ''Homeworld: Cataclysm'' also have {{Attack Drone}}s. The original ones were not very effective, but the design has evolved by ''Cataclysm''.
* ''SinsOfASolarEmpire'' also has "strikecraft" of two kinds -- fighters and bombers. Bombers are designed to attack cruisers, capital ships and structures while fighters take on lighter vessels, bombers and other fighters. The TEC fighters and bombers, and Advent fighters look like atmospheric craft with streamlining, although they aren't meant to attack planets at all. The Advent bombers and Vasari strikecraft do not look atmospheric, but aren't utilitarian either -- they're just RuleOfCool based ShinyLookingSpaceships. All strikecraft [[SpaceIsAir act like atmospheric aircraft]] in terms of maneuvering, partake in {{Old School Dogfight}}s and strafing, and can only be targeted by flak frigates, certain capital ship abilities and enemy fighters. TEC and Vasari strikecraft are classical one-man types, while Advent strikecraft are remotely piloted drones.
* The ''[[VideoGame/{{X}} X-Universe]]'' series' space fighters are clearly designed to be similar to atmospheric ships, but not so similar as to look silly. Each race has five different fighter classes (M5 scoutship, M4 interceptor, M4+[[note]]pronounced em-four-plus[[/note]] heavy interceptor, M3 fighter, M3+ heavy fighter) that may be further subdivided into variant models.
* Rather like ''VideoGame/MasterOfOrion,'' ''InfiniteSpace'' allows the player to mount hangars on ships to launch fighters. However, only ships with a built-in catapult can use fighters.
* Averted by design in ''VideoGame/SwordOfTheStars''. The makers have stated that, with destroyers about 30 metres already, fighters would be at least half that size, FTL-incapable and fall quickly to point-defence, so they will not be included for now. The closest to them are the various unmanned {{Attack Drone}}s, which are indeed FTL-incapable and swattable by PD.
** The second game has "battleriders" that are the size of the first game's destroyers or larger, have no FTL drives, and are launched from carriers or fixed bases. More like gunboats than fighters, especially since they max out at dreadnought size.
* ''Independence War'': There are starfighters, and you sometimes command them as wingmen in addition to fighting them, but the craft you pilot is generally much larger (usually a corvette), command section aside. You never pilot the starfighters directly.
* The R-352 Sepia in ''AceCombat3Electrosphere'' is flown in the [[SpaceEpisode single mission that takes place in space]]. It is armed with various BeamSpam generators and used to shoot down enemy satellites.
* ''VideoGame/TachyonTheFringe's'' gameplay takes place entirely in fighters, given that [[PlayerCharacter Jake Logan]] is a fighter pilot by trade. Capital ships exist, but seem to mainly be used as carriers.
** Additionally, while fighters are not FTL-capable, they use [[PortalNetwork TCG gates]] to jump between sectors, while capital ships are too big to fit into the gates.
*** They may be too big, but all cap ships have their own tachyon coil generators and can enter SubspaceOrHyperspace at will (usually preceded by the typical "accelerate fast into nothingness" animation), although the fluff indicates that they still use the gates as navigating beacons.
* ''NexusTheJupiterIncident'' is mostly focused on tactical capital ship combat. While fighters and bombers are present and available to be launched, they are usually fairly quickly swatted out by flak lasers. The only way to use them successfully is to take out the enemy flak grid first before deploying fighters. Fighters can also act as an anti-fighter or anti-missile screen in addition to flak.
* ''{{Freelancer}}'' has the majority of pilotable spacecraft being fighters. You ''can'' get yourself a bulky freighter, but then you may as well paint a large target on its hull. On the other hand, the high-end space fighters in this game tend to be incredibly overpowered, as throughout the campaign you'll find yourself routinely taking out cruisers and battleships in your one-man fighter.
* Present in every ''VideoGame/EscapeVelocity'' game.
** The original has by far the biggest assortment, ranging from the strictly anti-fighter Defender on up to the Rapier, a heavy fighter-bomber that can take on capital ships in skilled hands.
** ''EV Override'' gives a single fighter model to each faction (except the Miranu, who use the standard Crescent fighter (so do the Igadzra and the Strandless, but the Crescent fighter is that faction-divided species' design, and not an import), and the Voinians, who has a heavy fighter ''and'' an interceptor).
** In ''EV Nova'', carrier-based fighters are pretty useless against anything except other fighters; they don't mount weapons big enough to be anything more than an irritant to capital ships. The exception is the {{game break|er}}ing Polaris Manta, which is well-shielded, faster and more maneuverable than any other ship in the game, and mounts a gun worthy of a light capital ship.
* ''StrangeAdventuresInInfiniteSpace'' has fighters for several races, including humans (although the only human fighter you find during the campaign is that of Ripcord O'Reily). However, they are extremely easy to destroy and are only a threat in large numbers (or if they come in at you from behind, where your weapons can't target). The sequel has several races feature carriers that periodically launch fighters (one is a full-fledged [[TheBattlestar Battlestar]] and will rip you to shreds if you get too close).
* ''VideoGame/HaegemoniaLegionsOfIron'' has fighter wings as your first buildable warships. They're fairly weak and usually go down from one or two shots, but each wing has 7 of them (the ExpansionPack has larger wings). Like larger ships, fighters can be armed with one of four types of weapons (proton, missile, ion, quantum). Turreted corvettes can usually take out fighters pretty quickly, effectively making them obsolete. Their only real use after that is to raid AsteroidMiners, go after discovered spies, or harass larger ships [[PointDefenseless not equipped with turrets]]. Given the ArbitraryHeadcountLimit, most players stop building fighters once they research larger ships. The intro, though, has extremely-advanced fighters (equipped with ''two'' weapon systems) ambushing the Martian ambassador's shuttle, sparking the war between Earth and its colonies.
* ''VideoGame/ConquestFrontierWars'' has fighters as the main offensive weapon of the [[BeePeople Mantis]]. Even their most powerful ship class, the Tiamat, is nothing more than a huge carrier that launcher wings of anti-ship bombers and has no other weapons. Strangely enough, humans are the ones who don't have any fighters until the Mantis rebels give them plans for their own carrier. Even then, humans don't use them nearly as much as the Mantis. The [[EnergyBeings Celareons]] don't even have fighters and rely on capital ships instead. Most ships are PointDefenseless. Each race only has one type of ship with any sort of anti-fighter weaponry (usually the cheapest). Fighters do often allow the Mantis to attack from beyond visual range, though, often requiring the fleet being attacked to look for the carrier (sometimes across a nebula or AsteroidThicket).
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Web Comic]]
* ''Webcomic/CommanderKitty'' calls them [[http://www.commanderkitty.com/2011/04/10/perfect-disaster/ Skyflys]]. They apparently come in many shapes and sizes, though the most commonly seen are those employed by the [[SpacePolice Triple-I]], which despite having cockpits are [[http://www.commanderkitty.com/2010/04/04/i-can-goes-back-now/ typically piloted by robotic drones]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Original]]
* ''[[http://www.projectrho.com/rocket/rocket3x2.html#fighters Atomic Rocket]]'' is one of several hard sci-fi sites arguing that manned starfighters are nonsensical. Their writers claim that {{Attack Drone}}s are the ''only'' practical application for small military ships, and postulate that the only reason starfighters might ever show up in reality at all is due to "[[RuleOfCool cultural]] [[{{Escapism}} inertia]]."
** Although it mentions that they see occasional use in orbital warfare, where there's a horizon to hide behind.
* ''OrionsArm'' makes a few references to nano-scale space fighters.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Real Life]]
* The U.S. Navy's "[[http://www.astronautix.com/craft/spauiser.htm Space Cruiser]]" high-performance space plane would have been a borderline real-life example--if it were ever built. The design called for a small, single-person craft that could be launched relatively cheaply and covertly, and would orbit the Earth once or twice, hopefully taking out Soviet spy satellites in the process. Not as glamorous as most fictional examples, given the fledgling military presence in space, but it would have looked fairly cool--and how many fictional space fighters feature ''an open cockpit''? (Don't forget to pack your space-suit!) Other similar projects can be seen [[http://www.astronautix.com/fam/comcraft.htm on this page]].
** The Soviets had their own equivalent designs for manned anti-satellite spacecraft, and sent armed ''Almaz'' space stations into orbit to test the concept. Since TheSpaceRace didn't result in a more established manned presence in space, unmanned anti-satellite weapons and surface-launched missiles were pursued as more practical alternatives by all sides.
* A better Soviet example would perhaps be the ''Spiral'' project, which aimed to produce a manned combat vehicle capable to launching into orbit, destroying enemy satellites (and starfighter interceptors), and landing again. Unfortunately for sci-fi fans everywhere, such vehicle was never built but an atmospheric prototype, the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mikoyan-Gurevich_MiG-105 MiG-105]], did take to the skies and can give you the basic idea of how a Soviet starfighter would have looked like.
[[/folder]]
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