The operation of fighters for deep space combat and other military applications has been an established yet dangerous part of space combat for over 100 years. Fighter tactics and combat capabilities have changed drastically over the years, but have also had to contend with a vast array of difficulties pertaining to Fighter operations.
Fighter’s primary disability is their size. Very few fighters reach the Class II weight classification, with most little heavier than shuttles. Fighters small size predicates extremely light power curves and light armament. In practical combat terms, single fighters are nearly useless when matched against even escorts and scouts. Fighters have no deep space capability and limited supplies. All fighters must rely on a base or support craft to operate. Fighters rarely have heavy weapons and often must land to re-arm during prolonged combat. Fighters have limited sensors, targeting systems and very limited shielding. Most fighter class vessels are unable to withstand a direct hit from energy weapons.
Despite these setbacks, fighters are surprisingly effective. Due to their small size, squadrons of fighters are able to operate in extremely close proximity, overlapping shields and concentrating weapons fire to damage their opponents. Fighters are often 3 to 4 times as maneuverable as starships, able to use complex evasive patterns to provide protection from hostile attack. When launched, a single squadron of fighters can often mass sufficient firepower to down an enemy shield and cause some damage. With subsequent waves attacking the same location, fighters become extremely dangerous. Fighters also force enemy starships to commit to a multi vector defence plan, diverting precious power to 360 degree shields. Most fighter carriers have sufficient fighters to engage 3 destroyer class vessels simultaneously, and with Carrier Battle Groups, are able to engage entire enemy fleets with high degrees of success.
None the less, only large numbers of fighter prove effective against enemy capital ships. Although many ships have a single wing of fighters aboard, they are rarely used due to the extremely high mortality rates associated with fighter operations.