At some point Brad mentioned that they were planning on implementing a "hardcore" combat mode that would take weapon arcs and ship facing and other factors into consideration. If you are going to all that trouble why not just implement tactical combat anyway but whatever...it's their game.
I actually see an ENORMOUS potential for the tactical ship to ship combat in this game.
I really, really, really hope they act on this potential. Few rambling ideas first.
1) The ships should have some sort of logic regarding positioning. As the OP mentioned, just charging in and fighting like they are all fighters seems odd. Capital ships should be looking to find their maximum range and maintain that range vs other capital ships with tactical movement determining who keeps range and who doesn't.
2) The weapon systems and defensive systems need a revamp.
a) Weapons should be scaled by ship size almost completely with their damage modified by the ship size. For example and these are just numbers being thrown around to explain the point. A tiny sized railgun should do 1 point of damage per hit to all sub capital ships. A tiny sized rail gun should do .5 damage a hit to a medium capital ship, .25 damage per hit to a large capital, .1 to a massive cap. Basically, kinetic weapons should have their damage modified based on the target. Every tier higher reduces the damage by say .25%. Every tier lower doubles the damage, but reduces the accuracy (to simulate tracking). So a large railgun does 1 damage against other large ships. 2 damage versus medium ships. 4 damage versus small, and 8 versus tiny. (if it already works like this regarding weapon masses I am unaware, I haven't played with anything beyond small ship sizes yet!)
b ) Missiles should NOT follow this system. Missiles don't get bigger, or smaller, there just becomes "more" being fired at a single time. Damage yield on missiles should remain the same. A tiny stinger should do the same as a single stinger launched from a massive hull.
c) Beam weapons should follow a system similar to kinetic weapons, but rather than the size of the projectile being throw being larger and more massive, it takes more energy, so the beam just does more damage.
d) Defensive systems could work roughly like this.
i) Armor, flat defensive bonus against everything, but modified along the following lines. Kinetic weapons do .5%, missiles do full damage, beams do 150% to armor.
ii) Point defense, offers no protection to beam weapons or kinetic weapons, but is HIGHLY effective versus missile systems. To balance this, point defense would negate X number of missiles. So a 16 point defense system is in essence 16 mini rail guns that can shoot down up to 16 missiles.
iii) The jack of all trades defense system. Basically operates as an HP buffer, takes full damage from all weapon systems. Point for point probably the least efficient, but it gives the greatest generalist protection.
3) The ability to modify or create tactical ship roles. Assault, Support, Capital etc.
4) A general fleet strategy that can be applied to fleets like a template.
a) knife fight fleet, just charge in, get as close as possible and swing away.
b ) the run away pepper you from range strategy.
c) you get the idea
These kind of concepts applied to a more in depth tactical battle system would be amazing and DLC well worth the purchase.