After playing the game some more, I would agree that it would be good to see the fighters going into back into action, instead of retreating when the carriers run out of supplies or are destroyed.
Maybe a simple order like ‘caution for as long as friendly carriers are operational.’
I’ve seen people set the caution really low, and it sets up a situation where there is a constant stream of fighters entering and leaving the main battle. Depending on the matchup, this could work out well for either the fighters, or the ships they’re attacking. Sometimes, this ‘stream of fighters’ is obliterated in fairly short order; other times the fighter stream prevails.
We’ve probably all witnessed where dozens - if not hundreds - of fighters retreat en masse because the carriers were made inactive.
As it is, a player has got to match up the proper amount of carrier resources with fighters, or it can result in wasted build points. At least with a ‘fight to the finish’ order the fighters would continue to contribute despite having no repairs available.
Anyway, I didn’t think it was a big deal until it happened to me. Seeing all of those friendly fighters waylaid on the edge of the map is disheartening. Of course, if my fighters were otherwise getting chewed up, retreating would’t be such a bad thing.