Have You Played… Jane’s US Navy Fighters 97?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Watching Top Gun at a bachelor party this weekend, I got to thinking about how cool Jane’s US Navy Fighters was. It was just as in-love with American carrier aviation as Maverick and Iceman were with each other, and featured an absolute treasure trove of American combat aircraft. Not all of them were terribly realistic (and some of them had no business being on a carrier at all!) but that wasn’t really the point.


US Navy Fighters 97 was about letting you feel like you were living the dream of being an ace jet pilot. Each mission, even against ground targets, is packed with exciting encounters and little details to help create the illusion that you’re really there, mixing it up with MiGs. Pull high-G turns and you’ll hear your Radar Intercept Officer gasping and grunting as he’s jammed into his seat. He’ll announce “Fox One, Fox Two” as you send a pair of Sidewinders at an enemy plane. And it was all accompanied by cutting-edge visuals and some of the best aircraft models anyone had ever seen, authentic right down to the squadron insignia. And each mission ended with the ultimate gut-check of an impossibly precise carrier landing.

Jane’s US Navy Fighters, you can be my wingman anytime.


  1. neotribe says:

    This was good, but Jane’s F/A-18 Hornet was better. And the Jane’s series always paled in comparison to Falcon.

    • SuicideKing says:

      Haha, I was about to comment about Graphic Simulation’s F/A-18 Korea.

    • Mattrogg says:

      I never played this is one, but my favorite sim from this era was Total Air War. It had the most awesome dynamic campaign, of the sort that is sadly lacking from combat flight sims these days.

    • Risingson says:

      Funny how you put this: in the 90s every flight/combat simulation fan was NOT an exclusive one. You loved a different simulator per plane featured (loving Falcon 3.0 has no interference with your appreciation of Jane’s fighters series) and whenever there were more than one simulator per plane, we all liked them for tgeir different feel or offerings.

      Having said that, this game never hit the spot for me.

      • neotribe says:

        I completely agree. I played and enjoyed them all. Boiling it down to ‘Falcon was generally better than Janes’ comes with a couple decades of separation.

    • KastaRules says:

      True that.

  2. silentdan says:

    If you launch a pair of sidewinders, it should be “fox 2, fox 2” not “fox 1, fox 2.” The number indicates the type of missile fired: 1 means a semi-active radar guided missile, 3 means fully active radar guided missile, and 2 means heat-seeking missile. AIM-9 Sidewinders are heat-seekers, so every launch should be accompanied by “fox 2” regardless of the quantity of missiles fired.

    AIM-7 Sparrows, for example, use semi-active radar guidance, meaning the pilot has to maintain a radar lock with his aircraft for the duration of the missile’s flight. If he loses radar lock on the enemy plane, the missile will miss.

    AIM-120 Slammer missiles carry their own radar apparatus, and can “paint” the target with its own radar beam, allowing the pilot to break radar lock and engage other targets while the missile is in flight.

    Radar equipment is heavy, so fully active missiles often carry a smaller warhead than their less sophisticated counterparts. The AIM-120’s warhead is half the size of the AIM-7’s.

    • neotribe says:

      But, helpfully, it tends to hit its target.

    • Spuzzell says:

      Ah, excellent.

      I was fairly certain I wouldn’t be the only person who noticed the foxed up terminology.

  3. Jason Lefkowitz says:

    Let’s say I haven’t played it, but I want to. As in, right now. Today. The year 2015.

    Is that even possible? Is it still for sale anywhere? Does it run on modern versions of Windows?

    • Atomic Playboy says:

      It works on Windows 7 x64, no idea about 8 and 10.

      For W7x64:

      Install the game and apply the latest patch (1.04) then drop a batch file containing the following lines in your main U.S. Navy Fighters ’97 directory:

      @echo off
      taskkill /f /im explorer.exe
      set /affinity 0 usnf.exe
      start explorer.exe

      Have a nice flight.

      • Atomic Playboy says:

        Hmmm, I just installed the game on my current W7 machine and the game still loads but it crashes after a few minutes.


  4. Jane Doe says:

    I don’t know about 97, but I did love 94 for its story. Its really the last great flightsim outside Sci-Fi with decent storytelling that I can remember. Actors, good sets picturing pilots on the carrier, actual characters (they had a Ukrainian who let US pilots try out his Sukhoi). And that intro… *swoon*

    • melancholicthug says:

      OMG I had forgotten, after all these years, that ’94 actually had a live-action story! I remember being blown away by that, as I had only recently gotten my Pentium 120Mhz with a 4X CD-ROM. What a beast it was.

    • jonfitt says:

      Yes! It’s the ’94 one I played. Loved it. Along with Apache, Hind, and SU-27 Flanker. Those are just the ones that come to mind right now. The 90s were great for combat flight sims.

    • JamesTheNumberless says:

      I agree, never played the “Jane’s” version but the ’94 was game was amazing. I remember once while watching one of the FMV cutscenes with my brother, my Dad burst into the room because he thought we were having an argument.

      Not sure which was more far-fetched. That we’d be shouting at eachother in ridiculous accents or that we’d be arguing about the plight of ethnic Ukrainians in the Crimea…

      Oh yeah, this is also the game that totally predicted Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

      The best thing was possibly the mission editor, it gave you insane levels of control over everything in the theatre of operations.

  5. peterako1989 says:

    Ive played the 1994 one as a kid. It was part of a bundle with many games. the cover art had many games but the carrier was at the forefront. If anyone knows this bundle. let me know what it was.

  6. MiniMatt says:

    It was just as in-love with American carrier aviation as Maverick and Iceman were with each other”>

    You mean…? What!?…Wait…

    Hang on a second, I need to go re-prove my masculinity by eating a kebab and challenging someone to a Warhammer 40k Eldar beatdown or something. (that’s how one still proves one’s masculinity right? it’s been a while)

    • neotribe says:

      Homoerotic Top Gun anxiety can only be purged by a good, sweaty game of beach volleyball followed by a tumble with a woman named Charlie.

  7. Saarlaender39 says:

    Rob Zacny:”Watching Top Gun at a bachelor party this weekend”
    You’re at a bachelor party – and you watch Top Gun?

    What the f… is wrong with you?

    Kids these days…*smh*


    • carewolf says:

      If that is how they party, it is no wonder they are bachelors ;)

  8. skooma says:

    This fucking game man! Add ATF Gold and you have a good bit of my childhood. I would pretend to be an LSO when my friends would race their bikes. They had no idea what I was doing.

  9. johnny_lawless says:

    I spent SO many hours as a kid playing this. It’s because of this that I have:

    A: So many DCS World Modules.
    B: No money.