I would actually like to expand this.
Fleet formations from the older games was functional but it would be great to see this expanded.
Ideally we could setup fleets such that ships can be grouped within a fleet. These groups would be customizable to be forward or aft of other groups within the fleet, and behavior can be set such as aggressive defensive, and target priority could be set.
As an example, heres what Id like to be able to set up:
I would like 1 fleet that moves and jumps together where carrier cruisers and carrier capital ships would hold back to launch fighters. They would have anti fighter frigates and long range missile frigates, and heavy cruisers in a group set to defend those carrier ships. These two groups would stick close and try to avoid direct combat.
Within this fleet I would have attack groups made up of an offensive capital ship and supporting ships where ships like the robotics cruisers would have a priority list by ship type for healing. These attack groups would have a target priority list such as structures, cruisers and frigates, or capitals. A fleet would have multiple attack groups that would spread about the gravity well based on how they have been setup.
There would be support or logistic groups where command cruisers, support capitals, and repair cruisers would be set to back up other attack groups based on overall health, or proximity of hostiles to the group.
I would treat "fleets" as a way to move huge vastly different ships from system to system together, while "Groups" would be how I as a player manager ships in that fleet within the gravity well. At the ship level, ships like flak frigates would ignore group attack orders and instead have a behavior, such as "Protect this group", and thus will follow the group and serve as anti fighter while that group executes its target. Missie frigates might be set to hang back while heavy cruisers may be set to defend them so the missiles will fire from behind a ship wall of heavy cruisers and those cruisers would use their mobility buffs to try and intercept return fire by physically blocking attacks.
This would allow me as the player to attack on multiple fronts and have multiple fleets vs a single large fleet which was common in rebellion. I could reasonably expect my fleet to be okay if I zoom to another engagement if I have more control of ship focus, ships grouping and location in the group, and group movement as a fleet.
Ideally I'd also be able to hover over the group and fleet icons to see stats on that group like shields of the group, hull of the group, with red and green text indication that suggest this groups shields are or are not sustaining compared to the group its engaging. so if shields or hull are falling faster that the group or structure being attack they will be red but if the enemy is falling faster they would be green.
This allows for more macro management and allows us to pull back and manage at a much higher level and larger scale, jumping in to the micro when needed.