I turn off all the buildings to get the highest frame rates possible. Most of the war is in the air, anyway, and the necessary (i.e. target) buildings and objects still show up. I think the pop up distance was actually a glitch in Flanker that was later fixed in Lock On, a sim which I won't install because of that StarForce crap.
Maybe someone else knows if the distance can be manipulated in the ini file, or something?