Despite the dominance of drones in small craft engagements, human-piloted fighters do retain a place in both atmospheric and space combat.
Human reaction time and sensory input limitations have resulted in human small craft pilots being linked with broadband external connections to their craft to compensate for the limits evolution has gifted the human species with.
A superior cranial cable connects directly with the flight helmet providing input/output for to the visor's visual display; these visuals are linked to the craft's own sensory apparatus, allowing the pilot to "see" what their craft sees. Two artificial "eyes" allow for direct visual interfaces, necessary if the pilot is forced to eject, or simply navigation into and out of the cockpit.
Two inferior cables connect to neural links through the flight helmet and into the pilot's brain stem (the lower cable) and parietal lobe (the middle cable). The parietal cable is the pilot's de facto "control stick", allowing the pilot to interface directly with the craft's controls, improving reaction speeds to otherwise unattainable levels.
The brain stem cable contains three channels:
(1) A power channel
(2) A monitor feedback channel
(3) A drug channel
The brain stem cable is designed to constantly monitor the pilot's physical and mental reactions and to compensate with a steady stream of drugs fed directly into the brain stem. These allow the pilot to be kept calm under pressure despite their own worst instincts, to remove fear impulses, to adjust blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing rates. In an emergency, this will automatically induce a type of suspended animation improving the chances of the pilot staying alive, as well as, in event of the pilot dying, preserving the brain which can then be leveraged as a kind of Black Box allowing for the playback of all impressions, thoughts, and biometric info after the fact.
While not all human piloted small craft employ attached drones, many - particularly non-atmospheric craft - do, and the immediate flight response and feedback also allows the pilot to modify attached drone combat algorithms in real time, or even temporarily take over control of a drone if desirable.