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"Starfighter" is a science fiction term used to describe small, fast, usually one-manned craft designed for armed combat (cf starship).

The appearance and use of fictional starfighters is often modeled on fighter aircraft, with little regard for the actual physics of spaceflight. Exceptions include the Gunstar from The Last Starfighter, the Viper from the reimagined series of Battlestar Galactica, and the Starfury from Babylon 5, which are capable of multidirectional orientation. In some cases, the Starfighters are used as atmospheric fighters as well, explaining their looks.

Starfighters are popular as the subjects of flight simulator-like space combat video games, such as the "Wing Commander" and "X-Wing" series. This connection was made explicitly as early as the 1984 film The Last Starfighter in which a video game on Earth is used as a recruiting device for an alien civilization whose starfighters require the same skills as the video game.

In the Star Wars universe, a Starfighter is a blanket term for all small combat space craft, regardless of shields, hyperspace capability, weaponry (unless it carries none), armor, maneuverability and crew. "Snubfighter" (a term first used in Star Wars), though no concise definition has been given, often refers to a fighter carrying shielding, secondary weapons systems such as Proton Torpedoes or concussion missiles, and being hyperspace capable. Starfighters sometimes bear mission designations similar to modern fighter aircraft, such as "strike fighter" and "space superiority fighter".


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