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Naval Doctrine and Tech Level

Technology influences naval warfare, and interstellar navies are no exception.

With High Guard and subsequent starship-design systems, navies optimize into “Carrier Navies” or “Battleship Navies” depending on Tech Level, with the transition around TL12.

Below TL12, missiles (especially nuclear missiles) are the big ship-killers, with no effective defense except lots of armor or intercepting the incoming missiles. Missile-armed fighters and small missile corvettes (e.g., the Torpilleur and Grande Torpilleur) pack the highest firepower-to-displacement ratio of any ship, and swarm attacks of a lot of these smaller craft invoke “the Fuzzy Wuzzy effect”, dividing a few big targets into several smaller ones for redundancy (so a single catastrophic/nuke hit won't take out a major chunk of combat power). Hence, you have “Carrier Navies” of fighter/SDB-carrier Capital Ships with heavy missile armament.

Above TL12, nuclear dampers counter the big punch of nukes while new heavy energy weapons such as Meson Guns require specialized power-hogging meson screens as a countermeasure. Capital ships get bigger, both to house the huge new ship-killers (spinal-mount Meson Guns) and the countermeasures for them (meson screens and nuclear dampers). These big expensive ships are more valuable and need to be better protected, concentrating their defenses – a “Battleship Navy” of fewer but more powerful battleships, fighting directly with spinal-mount weapons and bay-mount secondaries at closer range instead of indirectly at long range with fighters and missiles.

Note that this is just the opposite progression of Wet Navy technology at Tech Level 6, where TL 7-10 Carriers supersede TL4-6 Battleships.