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Theoretically, a Jedi or Sith participating in a space fight, instead of dogfighting and aiming at the enemy fighter, would rather use the Force and disrupt it or make it explode. That never happens in screen.

In Revenge of the Sith, Anakin's and Obi-Wan's fighters are overrun by some droids that start to disassemble their fighters. Neither uses the Force to move them away.

In Rogue One, Vader uses a combination of lightsaber and Force techniques to make short work of the Alderaanian soldiers, then the corvette Tantive IV launches, a few meters away from the dock. Why didn't he telekinetically disrupt one of its engines to stop it?

Then we see Vader participating in a space combat (interestingly, for the only time in the old movies) in the Death Star trench. He is seen locking on Rebel fighters in front of him and shooting at them, while it would be easier to disrupt their course and make them crash on the trench's walls.

From the few times I have watched the Clone Wars series, I haven't seen the Jedi pilots combining space fighting with Force powers either.

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    It's the Star Wars equivalent of texting while driving, not a good combination! – CBredlow Jul 21 '18 at 3:52
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    Well, we have at least one who does: Luke when aiming at the death star exhaust port. – Paul Jul 21 '18 at 22:45
  • @Paul i would guess that Jedi use their Jedi senses and reflexes while piloting and aiming, but my question was clearly referring to offensive/telekinetic powers. – Voprosnik Jul 22 '18 at 17:43
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A possible answer could be that it simply takes too much concentration. It's one thing to focus the Force on a stationary target, especially a small one, but it could prove difficult to use the Force to, for example, choke someone who is moving quickly, and unpredictably, through space. Especially if you can't see that person. Remember that these fighters are flying through space at incredible speeds. So, in the case of A New Hope, Vader would have to not only hone in on Luke's ship as it moves in an out of the trench maze, but maintain his own concentration on flying his TIE fighter, so that he doesn't accidentally crash. This multitasking might just be too much, even for the greatest Jedi. In fact, in Attack of the Clones, we see that Yoda, possibly the strongest Force user at the time, still has to put his lightsaber away and close his eyes for several seconds as he concentrates on saving Obi-Wan and Anakin from the large pillar Count Dooku tried to drop on them.

In addition to this, many Jedi (the ones who appear to be exceptional at flying) seem to be focusing the majority of their Force focus on enhancing their own flying capabilities. We see that most Jedi are amazing pilots (Plo-Koon, Luke, Anakin, Ahsoka Tano), even Obi-Wan, and he hates flying. This isn't just a coincidence. Jedi use the Force to give themselves heightened senses and reflexes while flying, so that they can have an edge in battle. So perhaps too much of their energy is being used on "being good pilots", that they don't have as much of an ability to meddle with other stuff going on outside their own ship (other than by shooting it with their superior flying capabilities). Perhaps, even, the fact that they are using the force to fly well protects them against any possible interference from the Force coming from their opponent.

  • Well Vader used the force to hurl stuff at Luke while light saber fighting him. – Joe C Jul 22 '18 at 3:08
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    It requires less concentration to stand and hold a lightsaber than it does to fly a spacecraft – Sydney Sleeper Jul 23 '18 at 0:19
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    The "using the force to be awesome pilots" is mentioned several times in Expanded-Universe books. "I, Jedi" has some very good passages with Corran Horn using his force sensitivity while piloting. And the New Jedi Order opener "Vector Prime" has Jacen describing Jaina's ability to wed her Jedi skills and Force sensitivity together. – Jontia Jul 23 '18 at 15:57
  • Jedi and Piloting skills! Not Jedi and Force :( – Jontia Jul 23 '18 at 16:13
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    @Jontia Can you find the quotes you're referencing and add them as an answer? They sound very helpful. – DCOPTimDowd Jul 23 '18 at 17:43
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Vader did use the Force while piloting a starfighter (his Eta-2 interceptor) at least once:

[Isval] looked up through the canopy of the escort boat, eyes wide with disbelief, to see the shuttle, merely tens of meters distant and flying upside down. The ships’ cockpit viewports faced each other. Isval could see Vader, and Vader could see them. Vader made a gesture with his gloved hand, as if he were pinching off a bleeding artery, and Isval felt her throat constrict. Instinctively she reached for her neck, but there was nothing there, just the pressure, just the squeezing. She couldn’t breathe! She pawed at her neck, panicked now, legs kicking. Beside her, Eshgo was behaving the same way. She fought to draw breath, couldn’t. She clawed at her collar, squirmed in her seat, made a tiny gasp. Whatever held her squeezed tighter, tighter.

“What’s wrong?” Drim shouted from the back. “What is it? What is it?”

Her vision was darkening. Little bursts of light swam before her eyes. She remembered the sounds Pok had made over the comm when Vader had killed him—the long silence punctuated by the abortive gasps.

It was Vader choking her somehow. It had to be.

She glanced up and saw the Imperial shuttle, with Vader at the controls.

Someone was calling her name. Cham? Drim? Faylin?

She couldn’t answer. Her mouth wouldn’t work. She had no breath, no words. Her vision tunneled down to Vader, only Vader. She imagined herself reflected in the eyepieces of his helmet. Her world distilled down to his eyes and her anger, and that distillation gave her a moment of clarity.

She was failing, she knew, dying, but she wouldn’t go alone.

Lords of the Sith, p. 141

In that case, however, it was an unusual situation in which Vader's ship had a matched velocity with the enemy ship and Vader could see the people in the enemy ship. This suggests that it's generally quite difficult to use Force powers against such fast-moving targets as other spaceships. It's much easier to use the starfighter's other weapons, which are so relatively easy to use that even a pilot who is not Force-sensitive can use them. This is similar to why Jedi who have mastered tutanimis (dissipating concentrated energy, like that of a lightsaber blade) would still use a lightsaber to deflect another lightsaber blade even though they could theoretically block a lightsaber blade with their bare hands -- it's simply a lot easier and requires less concentration to use a purpose-built weapon than use the Force to accomplish the same goal.


Regarding your specific examples:

In Revenge of the Sith, Anakin's and Obi-Wan's fighters are overrun by some droids that start to disassemble their fighters. Neither uses the Force to move them away.

You are right that the Jedi probably could have used the Force just as easily here since the droids were stationary relative to the Jedi pilot. This is probably best explained as they simply didn't think of it in the mayhem of the battle (there were many other threats vying for their attention in addition to the droids). Since they were already focused on flying their fighters and using their blasters they probably just didn't think of using the Force at that time (when you have a hammer, every problem looks like a nail...)

In Rogue One, Vader uses a combination of lightsaber and Force techniques to make short work of the Alderaanian soldiers, then the corvette Tantive IV launches, a few meters away from the dock. Why didn't he telekinetically disrupt one of its engines to stop it?

The Tantive IV is a pretty big ship relative to a human like Vader so it's probably fairly difficult to stop such a ship with the Force in only a few seconds before it jumps to hyperspace. Additionally, Vader likely figured he could easily track it and capture it after a hyperspace jump (which is exactly what happened).

Then we see Vader participating in a space combat (interestingly, for the only time in the old movies) in the Death Star trench. He is seen locking on Rebel fighters in front of him and shooting at them, while it would be easier to disrupt their course and make them crash on the trench's walls.

It's arguably easier to use his fighter's blasters (which are designed to destroy enemy fighters) rather than try to push a relatively big ship enough to make it crash.


It's worth noting that in the Legends video game Star Wars: Jedi Starfighter a Jedi pilot uses the Force against enemy fighters (including Force Lightning!).

  • It's arguably easier to use his fighter's blasters (which are designed to destroy enemy fighters) rather than try to push a relatively big ship enough to make it crash. Not to mention dangerous for him as he would need to (1) keep from crashing into the death star itself and (2) keep from getting hit by debris from the destroyed ship while at the same time trying to concentrate on using the force to kill the pilot – psubsee2003 Jul 23 '18 at 16:14
  • If you want to stop a ship, you must first learn its internal mechanics (through the Force), to know where precisely to apply the Force to, say, disable the engine. That may take too much time and concentration and may prove useless, as the ship might just fly too far away. Such concentration may prove itself deadly, as there may be other threats (eg. blaster bolts to be deflected). – TimSparrow Jul 24 '18 at 10:42
1

Jared's answer covers the same main points, but if we go out to the Expanded Universe there are several examples we can pull in with quotes.

The basic idea is that their connection to the force enables Jedi to be awesome pilots. This is seen several times holistically, by the Jedi simply being better pilots than anyone else, sometimes with little to no effort. Luke's "landspeeder" sessions make him one of the best pilots in the Death Star assault for example.

In I, Jedi newly trained jedi Corran Horn is already a pilot, but uses his new found force sensitivity to give himself better situational awareness. When he's forced to fly against his old comrades in Rogue squadron he's able to read information from their minds.

I pushed my sphere of responsibility forwards, towards the incoming fighters...
Out of all this I sorted the feelings directed toward me, the mental energies concentrated on my clutch. As they hardened, they seemed to come to a point, as if light sliding along the narrowing blade of a knife, I knew when to juke right or left, up or down. In response I'd feel shock and anger or disbelief, then a gathering of concentration again.

In Vector Prime, the opening book of the New Jedi Order, the Solo kids all jedi are running an asteroid assault course. While all the kids are pilots and jedi, Jaina produces the best run;

Jacen, still a bit unsteady from his collision, walked into the room then. He glanced up at the clock, then moved beside the others and took a measure of Jaina's progress. "She's found her inner peace," he remarked.
"Did you?" Luke asked.
Jacen nodded. "But I didn't have the flying skills to complement it," he admitted. "Jaina's got the whole package."

After their runs I think 5 of the top 7 records on the course are held by Jedi. While it is possible to out pilot them it's clear that force usage gives those with good piloting skills already a significant edge.

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Out of universe answer. The force is ever evolving. In the original Star Wars (now called "A New Hope") Jedis didn't even have telekinesis at all. The force was more reflexes, aim and mind control. They didn't even lift their light sabers with the force until "The Empire ...". In Empire they had telekinesis of small objects, blocking phaser fire, force choking and Jedi jumping. In the next they had force hallucinations, forseeing the future, lightening bolts and lifting whole x-wing fighters. In all 3 they still never flung a living being with the force. Luke lifted 3PO, but no living beings.

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    Are force chokes, as seen in the original film, not a kind of telekinesis? – Wiggo the Wookie Jul 21 '18 at 5:21
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    Except that in Revenge of the Sith and Rogue One they most certainly did have Force Telekinesis... which they didn't use. – Valorum Jul 21 '18 at 7:17
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    @Valorum the user is speaking from an out of universe timeline... – Edlothiad Jul 21 '18 at 8:06
  • @Edlothiad - Except that out-of-universe they had these skills in the order that the films were made. – Valorum Jul 21 '18 at 8:23
  • How is Luke deflecting the training droid's shots without seeing them not "lifting his lightsaber with the force"? – jared.nesbit Jul 21 '18 at 18:06
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In short it was story telling, in my opinion. It is clear that Darth Vader would have been able to stop Luke and the Rebels in their attempt to destroy the Death Star by either force choking rebel pilots & or Luke or by breaking a key part of the engine of their fighters.

Most of the key story points could have been different if the force was used to the maximum but it wouldn't have created the same dramatic moments and key fights.

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    Force choking someone standing in front of you is one thing, force checking someone moving erratically in 3 dimensions relative to you, while you move around trying not to get shot. That's something else. – Jontia Jul 21 '18 at 11:17
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    This is true for almost any question here. Unfortunately, that's not the point of this website. It's best not to answer questions with "because that wouldn't be good cinema", unless there is no other real explanation. – jared.nesbit Jul 21 '18 at 18:32
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    @Jonita. Vader force choked one of his own pilots from another ship while they were communicating over a their radios "You have failed me for the last time ...". Get real, there is no in universe explanation. Star Wars is a great story, but they use the old "... little did you know the force can do this ..." a lot. – Joe C Jul 22 '18 at 3:04

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