My initial thoughts:
- Missiles, "explosive" drones driven by an AI, with a lot of thrust and propellant to reach its target from long range and inflict great damage (if not taken down by point defence during approximation). They can target other drones (missiles or fighters) for a one-hit kill or help wear off capital ships defences (average damage, ignores shields). They would be the suicidal equivalent of the heavy fighter.
- Torpedoes, huge missiles that only target capital ships (huge damage > DR, ignores shields). They may include extra armour against flaks or chaff against missiles. They would be the suicidal equivalent of the bomber (fighter).
- Bombs, huge missiles that only target planetary defences. Much like the torpedoes but better suited to reach its target through the planetary atmosphere. No counterpart in fighters right now.
Fighters and missiles can have different statistics for each role but I don't know if that is enough to justify having both in the game.
If FO shall have only one of those, I would vote for Missiles (instead of Fighters) hands down. They both would be roughly the same in terms of mechanics and fun but one of them makes sense.
I found some interesting readings. I wanna quote some stellar parts that made me laugh a while:
Small, fast, highly maneuverable COMBAT SPACECRAFT. They have very limited range (never FTL), and no crew habitability to speak of; they can only operate for at most a few hours at a time. The crew is limited to one person, or occasionally two. At least among EARTH HUMANS and ALIENS WITH FOREHEAD RIDGES, these are usually males in their early twenties, known for their swagger, coolness, and fast moves on any attractive female of an INTERBREEDABLE species.