Mod content aside there are 3 things fighters were originally desiged to do
First: provide an escort for a Frigate/Cruiser against other fighters. Enemy fighters try to slip in your escort (in conjunction with some of the cruiser weapons) will chew up such a blitz.
Second: in the event there are no fighters on the map they were meant to seve as more or less kamikaze’s that would whittle down the enemy just enough to make the frigates and cruisers job a relative cakewalk…this is why they are positioned 16 at a time on a map.
third: Fighters are also well served keeping other fighters busy, they go after each other while the cruisers and frigates go ahead and blast each other into oblivion.
That being said…the modded content changes the face of the game by quite a bit: particularly what I call “flagship” class ships (a cruiser/dreadnaught with 10 or more turret points). Such ships have the capacity to place multiple anti fighter weapons like tractor beams and defense lasers while still maintaining an array of 7-9 weapons designed for use against cruisers and frigates.
To that end I have found a shield module with about 40 shield points, a recharge rate of approxiamtely .06 and a resistance of 12 gives fighters a LOT more survivability, in fact it makes ALMOST impervious to other fighters and still makes them relatively easy for frigates or cruiser to shoot down after a few lucky hits
I am also experimenting with what I call a “reinforced hull” an armor module that actually has HP…because the damage distribution IS random it gives the ship somewhat more survivability without disrupting game balance TOO greatly…bear in mind I’m still testing this.
the downsides to at least MY version of this technology are cost, weight and power consumption. equipping this shield module takes a lot of power and slows a fighter down to ABOUT 1.2-1.5 for speed. Which is significant when you consider most fighters can have speeds in the high 1.X’s and 2’s
Cost is another one: at least my shield is something like 100+ in cost…which means an entire squadron of these things will be at LEAST 1600 to field…and that’s not inclulding weapons or the special fighter reactors to power the whole thing.
The resilts I’ve met with so far have been promising: I get far fewer fighters out on the field BUT they have the survivability to stand up to enemy fighters. They are still fast/small enough to evade most cruiser and frigate weapons and the ones that they CAN’T have reduced effectiveness thanks to the shields so they end up holding their own until heavier ships can start knocking out the enemy shields, then while the enemy is focusing on my cruisers and frigates the fighters continue plugging away at the enemy whittling them down little by little.