[Top 10] Elite: Dangerous Best Combat Ships (And How To Get Them)

Elite Dangerous, Spaceship combat,
The Fer-De-Lance shows up to ruin the Imperial Megaships' day!

Most of the Elite: Dangerous player base has at least dabbled into combat. It’s fun, exhilarating, and welcoming to newcomers. I was terrified of not being able to manage combat for a good while, but it’s a lot easier than I thought it was! I would encourage you to try exploring it yourself, so I’ve provided a handy list of ships that you might find useful as you forage into combat.
The great part of Elite is that you can engineer almost any ship to be a competent combat ship! Personally, I’ve engineered my tiny starting ship, the Sidewinder, to be a combat ship. Is it as good as my Federal Corvette? No. Is it just as fun? Of course! If you have a favourite ship, why not invest some love to make it into a cool combat ship, and take it out for a spin?

10. Cobra MkIII (Best for starting combat)

The Pilot reviews the Cobra MkIII
The Cobra MkIII is likely the first ship you’ll buy after you’ve earned enough credits with your trusty Sidewinder. It serves as a great multipurpose ship, and allows players to identify which role they’d like to fulfil in the Elite: Dangerous galaxy. If combat excites you, you’ll likely equip your Cobra with beam lasers and multi cannons. At 4 hardpoints, it’s a good start to understand how best to combine weapons to deal maximum damage.
The Cobra MkIII is also highly manoeuvrable, and can stay on the underbelly of larger ships to avoid any incoming damage. Even though the Cobra is small, it isn’t anything to be scoffed at, especially when fully engineered for speed and hardpoint effectiveness. The handling and high speed of the Cobra allow for skilled players to chip away at the health of larger ships, all while avoiding being hit. In the case of smaller ships, manoeuvrability is essential for this very reason. 

Ship Stats

  • Small ship size
  • Costs 349,718cr
  • 4 hardpoints 
  • No fighter hangar
  • Base top speed of 282 m/s
  • Manoeuvrability score of 5

What makes the Cobra MkIII great for combat?

  • Cheap multipurpose, good for exploring your role within the galaxy
  • Nimble, has great potential for fights against larger ships
  • Good amount of hardpoints for a small ship


9. Viper MkIII (Best for speed-focused combat)

The Pilot reviews the Viper
While the engines of the Viper MkIII may sound like my asthmatic wheezing on sports day in school, you can bet that the Viper will catch you in seconds. The Viper is one of the fastest and most manoeuvrable ships in the game, and will routinely prove itself to be a struggle to fight against. Not quite small enough to be considered squishy, but fast enough to avoid most of your shots, the Viper can easily take out ships many times larger than itself. 
The Viper has a low price point at 142,931cr, and still holds 4 hardpoints, giving players the flexibility to explore multiple combat builds. When flown correctly, the Viper has great potential to be a thorn in many a commander’s sides. All of these factors make it a great starting ship for speed-focused combat, which can eventually progress into ships such as the Alliance Chieftain and the Fer-De-Lance. 

Ship Stats

  • Small ship size 
  • Costs 142,931cr
  • 4 hardpoints 
  • No fighter hangar 
  • Base top speed of 315 m/s
  • Manoeuvrability score of 4

What makes the Viper MkIII great for combat?

  • Cheap, good for exploring fast-paced combat 
  • Extremely hard to hit 
  • 4 hardpoints can chip away at larger ships


8. Vulture (Best small combat ship)

The Pilot reviews the Vulture
The Vulture has just two hardpoints - but they’re both large-sized, making the Vulture a formidable force. The large sized hardpoints allow for a massive DPS, more so than other ships in its size and price range. Combined with great manoeuvrability, the Vulture can easily chip away at larger ships. The engine sounds like a mean fighter jet, and will give you a childlike sense of joy whenever you hit the boost button.
The Vulture is likely the most apex combat ship within the small ship range, and is a vital ship for all combat pilots to experience. In difficult conflict zones, Vultures routinely prove a challenge against even my fully engineered Federal Corvette. Personally, I skipped the Vulture on my 1st account and went straight for an Anaconda. On my 2nd account, I gave the Vulture a chance, and it’s provided a great deal of fun so far. These experiences solidify the Vulture’s position on my top combat ships list, and should not be swept under the rug in favour of larger ships. 

Ship Stats

  • Small ship size
  • Costs 4,925,615cr
  • 2 hardpoints 
  • No fighter hangar
  • Base top speed of 215 m/s
  • Manoeuvrability score of 5

What makes the Vulture great for combat?

  • The best small combat ship
  • Good price for beginners
  • Massive amount of firepower for a small ship
  • Very manoeuvrable 


7. Krait MkII (Best for mid-range combat)

The Pilot reviews the Krait MkII
The Krait MkII is a popular multipurpose ship, but also excels in combat. The Krait MkII holds 5 hardpoints, and can even launch a smaller independent fighter. Furthermore, two of the hardpoints are located on either side of the Krait’s cockpit, which provides an epic view of any pew-pews that you might be launching. The Krait is relatively manoeuvrable, although not quite as mobile as ships ranked later on this list. The Krait possesses more firepower than most mobile ships, but mobility is often a priority within the combat in Elite: Dangerous. 
Not quite enough of a tank to take large amounts of damage while destroying other ships, but not quite mobile enough to avoid damage, the Krait MkII is less suited against fighting ships larger than itself. The Krait has also been used in anti-Thargoid combat, but also pales against the Alliance Chieftain. 

Ship Stats

  • Medium ship size 
  • Costs 45,814,2015cr
  • 5 hardpoints 
  • Has a fighter hangar
  • Base top speed of 245 m/s
  • Manoeuvrability score of 3

What makes Krait MkII great for combat?

  • Possesses a good amount of firepower 
  • A good multipurpose ship that doubles into a combat ship when needed 
  • Good in combat against thargoids 
  • Pretty manoeuvrable 


6. Federal Assault Ship (Best for fun combat)

The Pilot reviews the Federal Assault Ship
The Federal Assault Ship is, in essence, a double-barrelled Vulture. It has two large and two medium hardpoints, and manoeuvres exceptionally well. The shield generator is lacking, but the hull points of the Assault Ship makes up for any perceived weakness. Because of the hull tank nature of the Assault Ship, shields going down is to be expected, but shouldn’t be a problematic issue for most players. 
While not as adept in combat as its Alliance counterpart, the Chieftain, the Assault Ship can still easily hold itself in a fight against a significant number of pirates. If the event comes where the player runs out of ammunition, you can always become your own hardpoint by ramming enemies. The increased armour hardness and hull points of the Assault Ship allow for ramming to deal significant damage against enemy ships, while not taking that much damage yourself. However, it is best to ram in a shield tanked ship, which allows for minimal damage against your own ship.

Ship Stats

  • Medium ship size
  • Costs 19,814,210cr
  • 4 hardpoints 
  • No fighter hangar
  • Base top speed of 215 m/s
  • Manoeuvrability score of 4

What makes the Federal Assault Ship great for combat?

  • Highly manoeuvrable 
  • Good amount of hardpoints allows for dealing good damage 
  • If you run out of ammo, you can become the 5th hardpoint by ramming 
  • Great armour hardness, making the hull more resistant to damage


5. Alliance Chieftain (Best for Thargoid combat)

The Pilot reviews the Alliance Chieftain
The Alliance Chieftain is deemed the primary competitor against the Federal Assault Ship, and has also been reported to be better than the FAS. The Chieftain is highly manoeuvrable, and has a higher base speed when compared to the FAS, as well as possessing one more hardpoint, and better hardpoint placement. Module reinforcements are vital for the Chieftain, as the thrusters and canopy are highly exposed, and allow enemy commanders to aim for vulnerable areas, rendering your ship harmless. 
The Chieftain excels at combat against the enemy species within Elite: Dangerous, the Thargoids. Even though Lakon’s Type-10 Defender was built to fight against Thargoids, commanders regularly find themselves turning back to the Chieftain due to its superior mobility. This beefy Chief is cheap for its power, and should be considered vital for commanders who aim to delve into Thargoid combat.

Ship Stats

  • Medium ship size
  • Costs 19,382,250cr
  • 6 hardpoints 
  • No fighter hangar 
  • Base top speed of 235 m/s
  • Manoeuvrability score of 4

What makes the Alliance Chieftain great for combat?

  • Extremely manoeuvrable, flies like a dream
  • Good hardpoint placement allows for a great time on target 
  • The best medium ship for value-for-money
  • Great against thargoids 


4. Fer-De-Lance (Best for PvP combat)

The Pilot reviews the Fer-De-Lance
The Fer-De-Lance is the undisputed king of PvP combat. Being one of the few medium ships that can hold a huge sized hardpoint, it has insane DPS potential, as well as being one of the most manoeuvrable ships in the galaxy; it is no surprise that the FDL is a favourite of combat-focused players. The FDL can easily destroy any larger ship in the right hands - but only in the right hands.
The FDL is extremely temperamental regarding handling - if the player is not constantly paying attention to the behaviour and environment of the ship, the ship’s effectiveness will be severely reduced. The ship is relatively squishy, and if a large ship manages to line up a target with the FDL, enemies can destroy the vulnerable FDL in seconds. The FDL further reinforces Elite: Dangerous’ importance with avoiding damage during combat, as a ship that doesn’t take damage cannot be destroyed.  

Ship Stats

  • Medium ship size
  • Costs 51,567,040cr
  • 5 hardpoints 
  • No fighter hangar
  • Base top speed of 265 m/s
  • Manoeuvrability score of 4

What makes the Fer-De-Lance great for combat?

  • Extremely manoeuvrable and borderline impossible to hit
  • Great DPS considering it has one huge hardpoint 
  • Can be vulnerable hard to pilot if you’re not experienced in power management, but is unstoppable if you put time into learning the Fer-De-Lance


3. Anaconda (Best for multi-purposed combat)

The Pilot reviews the Anaconda
I’ll be honest. I’m biased towards the Anaconda. After a massive trip to the centre of the galaxy in a starter ship, the Anaconda was what I purchased with my credit reward for my exploration data. It was my third ever ship, and the ship that I first experienced combat in. And what an experience it was. 
The Anaconda boasts 8 hardpoints, including one huge hardpoint on the ship’s underside. It has the highest potential DPS in the entire game, even beating the Federal Corvette. The 14 optional internal slots allow commanders to get creative with their load-outs, feeding into the Anaconda’s multipurpose capabilities. The Anaconda makes for a stunning exploration ship, a fantastic trader, and a great fighter. 
The Anaconda turns like a beached whale, and handles worse than the Federal Corvette. She’s slow, but a fantastic ship for the price, considering the thousands of ways you can enjoy your new ship. The Anaconda has a unique eye-catching silhouette, and is always a marvel on the battlefield. 

Ship Stats

  • Large ship size
  • Costs 146,969,450cr
  • 8 hardpoints 
  • Has a fighter hangar
  • Base top speed of 183 m/s
  • Manoeuvrability score of 1

What makes the Anaconda great for combat?

  • The best multipurpose ship, and doubles as a fantastic combat vessel 
  • Has a massive array of hardpoints
  • Combined with a fighter bay, it has the highest potential DPS in the entire game
  • Many internal slots allow for experimentation of loadouts


2. Imperial Cutter (Best for shield-tanking combat)

The Pilot reviews the Imperial Cutter
The Imperial Cutter is the perfect ship for you if you love being a shield tank. Outfit that size 8 internal slot with an engineered prismatic shield, and you can almost guarantee that your shield will never go down. The Cutter holds 7 hardpoints, but lacks firepower compared to the Federal Corvette, but is undeniably more sleek and stylish than its Federation counterpart. While it is the most expensive ship in the galaxy at over 200 million credits, it isn’t hard to see why. From the leather seats to the massive bridge, it is clear that the Imperials built the Cutter to show one thing - how much better you are than everyone else in the galaxy. 
The Cutter handles poorly, but has a relatively fast forward speed. But with such a massive shield generator, you’re not going to be needing to avoid many shots anyway. If you want to flex your credits on other players and battle in luxury, the Imperial Cutter is definitely the way to go. 

Ship Stats

  • Large ship size
  • Costs 208,969,451cr
  • 7 hardpoints
  • Has fighter hangar
  • Base top speed of 202 m/s
  • Manoeuvrability score of 0

What makes the Imperial Cutter great for combat?

  • The best shield tank in the game 
  • Extremely luxurious - destroy ships in style 
  • In PvE combat, the Cutter will almost never fail you
  • Doesn’t look intimidating, but has great potential


1. Federal Corvette (Best for PvE combat)

The Pilot reviews the Federal Corvette
The Federal Corvette is the king of PvE combat. It can easily solo the most challenging PvE matches in the game, and is generally deemed unstoppable by NPC commanders. You’ll feel like a god in this thing. One look at the structure of this ship lets you know what its function is. It looks like an industrial warship. It looks intimidating. And, most of all, it’s a beauty to fly.
The Federal Corvette is surprisingly manoeuvrable in comparison to other larger ships, and boasts 7 hardpoints. However, it is the only ship to possess two huge hardpoints, meaning its firepower is unmatched. The Corvette can also be multipurpose, and serves well as a toothed trader for fighting off hungry pirates. If you want to rule the battlefields of conflict zones and resource extraction sites, the Corvette is the way to go.
However, it is essential to consider that flying the Corvette in an open server, around other commanders, makes you a flying target. You can easily be taken down by a skilled commander in a Fer-De-Lance, as they will be able to stay out of your guns’ range, while chipping away at your health. Thus, we recommend that you keep this ship to private or solo sessions.

Ship Stats

  • Large ship size
  • Costs 187,969,450cr
  • 7 hardpoints 
  • Has a fighter hangar
  • Base top speed of 198 m/s
  • Manoeuvrability score of 2

What makes the Federal Corvette great for combat?

  • Massive DPS due to two huge hardpoints 
  • Surprisingly manoeuvrable 
  • Has both tough shields and a tough hull
  • Honestly like flying a death star 


Most ships can be fantastic combat ships if you put the suffience time and love into engineering your modules. Your chosen ship may depend on your style - do you prefer super fast combat in the Fer-De-Lance, or slower combat in the lumbering Anaconda? Combat in Elite: Dangerous is extremely fun and rewarding - give it a try!

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Kathy Miller is an aspiring robotic wildlife photographer in Horizon: Zero Dawn. She is also a reluctantly good spaceship pilot in the world of Elite: Dangerous, too.
Gamer Since: 2005
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
Top 3 Favorite Games:Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Elite: Dangerous, Borderlands 2

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