I wanted a more WWII style approach with dedicated craft (my dad was a WWII B-25 gunship pilot) and having been an Air Force intelligence sergeant it irked me with the non-realistic uniformity in the game.
I'm still playing with ability flows--how they lag, what works and what doesn't etc. but essentially, the "abilitied" strikecraft are the equivalent of "land based" flying mostly only from starbases or hangar defenses.
I've made them more bomberlike in performance but with slower speed. So if you run away from one, it will usually not be able to close on you.
What they are useful for is attacking a ship on the edge of the gravity well trying to jump out or orbiting ships in-place during a battle.
In the former case, they jam your jump and in the latter they can do things like cause weapons to be less accurate, etc.
I haven't had a chance to test out much fighter-wise in Rebellion but I had some epic performing ones for Diplomacy.
The high speed interceptor would loop out almost to the edge of the gravity well and then race in at nearly double normal speed doing a single shot or maybe two for heavier than normal damage.
The heavy bombers crawl to their target but once the reach it can really hurt and are armored like cruisers. They actually fly just slow enough to execute loop-the-loop attacks or almost do Immelman's--pulling away at the last second. I made the bombers fly faster than there weapons so you got a real bomb attack look--the ship pulling up and away and the bomb hitting as it climbed out.
Good eye candy.
Gunships are armed specifically to do damage to particular craft.
So area effects are limited but good. I'll share more when I test them and fit them out more fully here in Rebellion.