So I had a suggestion in another thread about the possibilities a carrier could use to be effective. Here I go into more detail about the topic.
So, fighter carriers would be used to defend fleets and planets.
A fighter carrier can be installed on a battleship, like usual. A fighter carrier instead of attacking during battle, can attack before battle. A fighter carrier can launch squadrons that can either manually or automatically attack fleets up to 5 light years away. The squadron would travel at warp 1 only. A single carrier module can launch up to 10 fighters. A single fighter can deal 25 damage, which is split between the entire enemy fleet.
When a fleet has at least one carrier module, you get a new button on the fleet panel, to launch fighters. It would bring up a screen similar to the split fleet screen, where you can add or take away fighters from the fighter “fleet” you are launching. The squadron would then create a fleet, preferably with a different icon, which can be commanded like any fleet.
You can choose to have squadrons automatically attack, or manual attack only. The fighters can attack up to 5 light years away, at warp 1.
Squadrons can also defend against enemy squadrons. If the carriers are set to automatically attack, once an enemy squadron comes into the 5 ly range, your squadrons will attack. You can set this to send every single fighter you have, or only what you prefer, say 5 jets, 8 jets. Once you send all fighters to attack, you then have a cooldown. Id say 30 minutes on the ATD server, or 6 hours on the main servers. You can also order a squadron to defend other fleets. The fleet cannot be using any special module, such as sweeping or cloaking. This would be great for protecting freighter fleets. Now you might think, you can just run away from fleets and destroy them with squadrons… But remember, they travel at warp 1, so when they attack, they still have to return to your fleet to initiate the cooldown.
Planets also have fighters. This will be a building, which allows a set amount of fighter jets. Id say a level 1 Hangar bay will have up to 15 jets. A level 2, 25. A level 3, 40. This would be an expensive building.
As for stats, id say a single fighter can deal up to 25 damage in an attack, and have 50 health. If a squadron cannot destroy every fighter in an enemy squadron, the remaining squadron will continue its attack on the enemy fleet or whatever. Now, the 17k damage I am proposing may sound bad, but think about it this way. If you have a battleship fleet with pure squadrons, those squadrons cannot be used in actual fleet combat, so you have all of those large weapons not being used. But if an enemy doesnt have fighters themselves, it could be devastating to pretty much anyone. The squadrons alone wouldnt be able to destroy a fleet, but the less ships it has, the more damage each ship will take. Once the attack is done, the squadrons are forced to return to the main fleet and the cooldown starts. If a ship with little health is destroyed by a squadron, say one with 100 health, only 4 fighters will return, and the rest are still able to attack, while the four that returned now have a cooldown. When a squadron attacks, you get a battle icon, where you can see how much damage you and your opponent did. The battle will not be able to be watched, unless its possible to do so. If multiple fleets are within the 5ly range, multiple fleet squadrons can defend simultaneously.
For the fighter building on a planet, i suggest it costs 15k beron for a level 1, 30k for level 2, and 60k for level 3. Would require 25k population per building, 100 MW of power. They would work the same way as the battleship carriers. So, on a planet with 750k population, you could have over 1000 fighter jets. That is if you dedicate this planet to fighters. Capable of dealing a total of 25000 damage, split between an 18 ship fleet, would be 1388 damage per ship.
Let me know what you think. Just, carriers being such a difficult research, and them being so useless, they need an overhaul. I feel this idea would make them not only usable, but a great option in armadas.