What do you do with military aircraft?

The question may sound dumb but I’m genuinely puzzled by the role military aircraft can play in Microsoft Flight Simulator. Personally, I’m tempted to buy either the F-35 or the F-14 Tomcat, however, I am not certain I would truly use them enough to prove their worth.

See, General Aviation aircraft are perfect to use basically anywhere. They’re great for low-level flights, to explore the world, to enjoy the scenery. Airliners and business jets, on the other hand, are perfect to recreate long flights. There are literally thousands of flights all over the world, different airlines, liveries, passenger or cargo “tasks”, an endless pool of oppurtinity to create our own goals and destinations.

Military aircraft, though, are in a curious spot in my opinion. I certainly don’t miss weapons or combat. Flight Simulator should always be about the joy of flight and not destruction. However, this also limits the potential of these planes. There is the F/A-18 in the game by default, for example, and I really enjoy flying it in short bursts. Therefore I think: what could I do in a paid F-35 that I couldn’t in an F-18? (Hovering, I know, but is that alone worth the money?) Am I missing something? Is my imagination inssufficient? I’m curious what you all do with military aircraft. You simply fly from A to B and enjoy that it’s different? Or are there other roles one could find for these vehicles? So, while GA and airliners both represent a style of flying, do military aircraft also offer something unique?

I’m curious about your opinions or experiences.


Simulate patrolling your country of choices airspace.


For me military aircraft have many usages.

First of all it’s an emotional thing. It’s something not often seen in the real world and the chance of every experiencing the real thing myself is practically zilch.
So they are exotic, powerful, maybe even a little scary and offer a completely different set of challenges due to their manoeuverbility, complexity and - in case of the F-35B - a very unique flying experience.

So obviously I cannot use them in MSFS for what they were built to do in the first place, but things like carrier operations or low-level high speed flying (Mach Loop/Star Wars Canyon or simply zooming through some mountain valley), are definitely things worth doing. But even a simple flight from A to B can be quite rewarding.

In addition they are very different to operate. Startup on an F-14 has little in common to a C172 and sitting inside the cockpit of a military jet for the first time with all the knobs, buttons and levers is a bit disorienting. So getting the thing in the air is a bit of a challenge at first as well.

Same goes for vintage military planes like the Spitfire. More familiar to a C172 in operation but still difficult to operate well due to the huge amount of power and finicky engines with more complex startup procedures. A good take-off or landing in a Spitfire Mk.IX is something many a sim pilot have struggled with since Flying Iron published her. :slight_smile:
And the Nieuport 17 will try to kill you if you don’t treat her right. This thing stalls extremely suddenly and then simply falls from the sky like a ton of bricks :slight_smile:

About your choices:
I love the F-14 since it’s a lot more raw and unsophisticated than the SC F-16 or the Asobo F/A-18. DC has transported that over to the sim nicely. It’s isn’t exactly difficult to control, but the reactions of the aircraft are a lot more aggressive and less predictable. Surprisingly this large fighter is very nimble and manoeuverable.
The F-35 is controlled by computers and it shows in the sim depiction. It isn’t boring or anything and offers you much variety due to the three versions. But flying it feels more “detached” than the F-14.
The SC F-16 is sort of in the middle when it comes to flying. Its party trick is the excellent visibility and high position of the cockpit. Feels a bit like sitting on top of the aircraft instead of in it.

So whatever you pick: have fun :slight_smile:


I’ve seen a number of military aircraft on VATSIM myself though if you wish to conduct military activities you have to be a part of VSO, nothing stops you from doing point A to B flying though.


I’m not sure it’s so much about finding tasks or purpose, since you can do most of your usual civilian flying ‘missions’ just fine in military aircraft, but it’s more about the sensation and ambiance of them, and the challenges that are unique to very high performance aircraft, particularly the stick and rudder finesse and quick thinking needed. In an aviation world now dominated by glass cockpits, autopilots, excessive regulations and procedure, and a stifling obsession with safety, they are really some of the purest flying experiences left.

All of my round the world trips in FS over the years have been in military planes, from Spitfires to the SR-71, and given that these planes generally have short legs, there’s a lot of planning that goes into those long flights. Then of course there’s the sound… I’d much rather listen to a snarling Merlin for 3 hours than a droning Lycoming. :wink:

I tend to see them like this: Sure, you can go to the grocery store in a very sensible VW Golf, but it’s a lot more fun in a Lotus… even if it melts your ice cream. :wink: Just because it was designed for the track it doesn’t mean you have to use it solely for that, and knowing you can mash the throttle and really move whenever the mood takes you comes with a special joy all its own.


I bought the F-35 for the hover feature alone…until helicopters come along.

Buuuuut, I’m a total sucker for military helicopters. The Iroquois, Venom, Chinook, Huey, Blackhawk, Viper, etc.

Swear on my life, any of those come to Xbox, I will throw my hands in the air and celebrate like I’m at a revival church.


When you want to cover a lot of ground sight seeing, fighter jets are great. Touring the grand canyon, yosemite national park, the alps, the entire coastline of a continent, these are the kinds of flights I do in fighter jets. It would take forever to do these things in a slow GA aircraft. I might spot a location to come back again later in a GA aircraft while doing this kind of high speed sight seeing.


If you are not flying the F/A-18 now, then you probably won’t fly the other military aircraft in the sim. You obviously have a bias, so save your money.

For me, I’ve always wanted a single-seat jet in which I could explore the world. I got my license in Cessna’s, so been there done that. Airliners don’t interest me. In one hour I can cover the entire Pacific Northwest in the Hornet, and I do that almost daily. It never gets old.


I fly military jets a lot in the sim. As of right now we’re lucky in that there’s a really nice variety of military jets available, mainly from DC Designs and Indiafoxtecho, and they all have their own characteristics and challenges to flying.

Its a strange question to ask ‘what do you do with a military aircraft?’ What do you do with an airliner? What do you do with a GA plane? What do you do with a helicopter? The answer is you just enjoy flying them and injecting the experience with whatever your imagination wants, and crucially none of it is right or wrong. Thats why it annoys me when people say military jets don’t belong in the sim.

People ask 'whats the point in military jets if you can’t fire weapons? Well whats the point in airliners if you can’t fly passengers? The point is Its the challenge of flying the aircraft which is important, and it really doesn’t matter what the aircraft type is.

One of the things I love about fast jets is that they really open up the world to explore. I can take off from Edinburgh and fly all the way over to the North tip of Skye and back in an F-15 in less than an hour. For those people who don’t have huge amounts of time to devote to the sim but want to explore the world military jets are great

But you could ask that same question about any two planes of similar type in the sim. What can you do in a DA62 that you can’t in a Seneca V?


If you are on PC, why not try the Hawker Hunter (its free), or the payware Just Flight Hawk.

I’m currently flying the Hunter from Milldenhall (UK) on the route of the MacRobertson Air Race, its great fun.


Billionaires like to purchase and fly them in real life. But a Cessna CJ4 can match or beat most of the performance specs., but perhaps not g-force handling.

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If I would be enough into military aircraft to actually buy them it would be for three reasons:

  1. Performing stunts (which can be done using the F/A-18E just fine)
  2. Collecting aircraft which played an important role in history
  3. Train some skills like landing on an aircraft carrier (also something the F/A-18E can do) or aerial refueling at some point.

I guess “2” would be the strongest reason for me - even Jörg Neumann as the head of MSFS says it’s important for him to conserve history in the sim and many innovations from the battlefields went to civilian aircraft later :slight_smile:

I also like the sleek look of jets, their pure power without dealing about emissions - it’s just about flying at the limits :wink:


I love flying the F14 from DC Designs. I find MSFS boring but in the F14 I can invert, do loops, rolls, carrier landings, chase down commercial airliners, Canyon runs and checkout that cockpit view. Plus, you have inflight refueling. I did a nonstop flight around the world in the F14. :slight_smile:
Last photo is from the RIO seat.


I like to fly them around mountains and stuff like that, do split s maneuvers and land on aircraft carriers. But then, 50% of the time I crash them. Another reason the Navy shouldn’t let me around FA/18Es :rofl:


I do enjoy learning the different startup procedures on the jets – the F-104 requires a dedicated external power cart!

Mostly I pull up the modern fighter jets when I just feel like doing some zoom-zoom. Sometimes fast flying low over terrain – a very different experience from flying VFR at 100 knots! – other times I’ll joyride what would be a 2-hour airliner flight in 45 minutes at supersonic, then practice landing the bigger, faster hunk of metal.

(I particularly like to fly the F-15 in/out of KPDX, my local major airport, because there are Oregon Air National Guard F-15s based here IRL.)

WWII-era piston fighters I’ll sometimes use for my local VFR trips that I also do in GA planes “following all the rules”, but at 250 knots instead of 100 you can cover more ground. I basically pretend I’ve got a restored plane and I’m flying out toward an air show or something. :wink:

There’s nothing to blow up or shoot at, so it really comes down to the startup & flying experience with different limitations and capabilities – and a really cool look I can screenshot. :smiley:


At first I didn’t see the appeal either. But if you’re a GA kind of person, they grow on you very quickly cause you can essentially do a lot of the same things you do with regular small planes but faster and more spectacularly.

Personally, I haven’t purchased any new fighter jets, but I use the Hornet to:

  • Perform stunts
  • Get from point A to point B very, very quickly
  • Intercept real-world planes sometimes

It’s quite fun to fly low with it through canyons and deep valleys, get close to nature and cover huge distances in short periods of time.


For my part, I basically love flying. Unfortunately, I was never granted the opportunity to pursue a real career as a pilot in real life. This is how I live out my fascination with the simulator and have done so for years.
I think it really depends on which plane you like the most. For example, I’m more of a visual type and in my case I like fighter jets best (but not everyone). But I also like flying GA’s. Just fly and enjoy and pursue your fascination.

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Lots of useful insight here, thank you. I have two reasons why I consider buying these:

  • F-14 Tomcat: It’s an iconic aircraft, especially from movies like Top Gun and The Final Countdown which are very important to me. It would be nice to fly it in a realistic sim.
  • F-35: I like its STOVL and hover functionality, which would mean I don’t have to fly fast with it, I can “stop” whenever I want to, to admire the scenery, circle around a point of interest or whatever. It’s really a multi-purpose aircraft in this regard, nothing comes close in flexibility.

My wallet holds me back more than anything else, but until it does it’ll be fun to think about which model would better fit my taste.


Just an FYI: DC Designs is working on a AV-8B Harrier II release.

I only buy from DC Designs. High quality aircraft with excellent customer service.

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I’m still waiting for someone to create an addon that lets you practice formation flying.

Being able to learn formation flying and perfect displays from your favourite aerobatic teams would really rewarding and would add a whole new dimension to military aircraft.

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